Jurgen Klopp acknowledged Liverpool are "under pressure" to qualify for next season's Champions League as they look to salvage something from a difficult season.

The Reds were knocked out of this year's competition at the quarter-final stage after a goalless draw with Real Madrid at Anfield saw them lose 3-1 on aggregate.

Their exit on Wednesday ended any hopes of silverware in this campaign and they now face a battle to finish in the Premier League's top four with seven games left.

Liverpool are in sixth place, jostling with city rivals Everton along with Chelsea, Tottenham, Leicester and West Ham for the lofty finish they want.

Klopp's side head into Monday's clash with Leeds United on the back of three consecutive Premier League wins – just the second time they have strung together a trio of league wins this season.

Liverpool also boast a good recent record against the West Yorkshire club, with Leeds having won just one of their last 11 home games against the Reds in all competitions (drawn three, lost seven).

Speaking at a news conference on Saturday ahead of the trip to Elland Road, the Liverpool manager claimed his side are feeling the heat.

"Yes, we are under pressure, how everyone can imagine, in the sense that we want to finish in the top four but we don't know in the moment if we will," Klopp said.

"But we have seven games to prove that point and that's what we try.

"There are obviously two things in football that are important: one is the performance, the other is results. The last three Premier League games we won, one Champions League game we lost and one we drew.

"The one bad game we played in that spell was the Champions League game we lost, all the other games were OK or better, so that's what we have to keep doing: play our best football.

"And still you have to accept then the result because you have to finish the situations off, what we didn't do in the second leg against Real Madrid obviously, but that does not mean we will not do that forever again.

"That's the situation, just go for it. It's not only about having a response or whatever, it's just go for it, go and go and go, play your best football."

Liverpool won the reverse fixture against Leeds 4-3 on the opening day, and they have done the double over Leeds four times in the Premier League (1996-97, 1997-98, 1999-2000 and 2002-03).

Klopp said: "When you think about Leeds, it's like, 'It's uncomfortable, you have to go and do this and this and this' – exactly the same thing Leeds has to do when they think about us: 'Oh my God, how do we defend that?'

"We cannot do more actually, before a game. The way is clear – we have to win football games. The best way would be to win all the football games, but there are tough opponents and we respect that, we really respect that. 

"We see the situation we are in and we see it positively, to be honest. We are around, we have to win our games to put pressure on the other teams and stuff like this."

Klopp has no fresh injury worries ahead of the fixture and revealed positive progress in the rehabilitation of long-term injury victims Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson.

He added: "Joe is outside running now and all these kind of things, which is obviously always a big step after all injuries.

"He [Gomez] looks fine when he is running, no real reaction in the knee, which is very important. It obviously still takes time but he's in a good way. Like Virgil, Joel and Jordan are."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes it is "unlikely" Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez will feature at Euro 2020 this year.

Netherlands star van Dijk has been sidelined since October after suffering a serious knee injury, while England defender Gomez has been out since November due to a knee injury.

The European Championship was pushed back to this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and is set to begin on June 11.

Klopp said he did not expect van Dijk or Gomez to be ready for the tournament after their serious injuries.

"That's not my decision, but to be honest, the information I have in the moment [is] it will be unlikely," he said.

"So, not that I don't let them go because I don't want to have to do that anyway, but it's because of the extent of the injury. We all hope that they will be ready to start the pre-season with us. That's what we hope.

"And, by the way, with Joel [Matip] it's pretty much the same, he's just not qualified for the Euros but it's with him the same.

"These are really serious injuries. And it's not about now that we talk [about] which competition they can play. As far as I know – and I'm always open for positive surprises, now they all of a sudden show up in team training – but nobody told me that.

"The two of them [Gomez and Van Dijk] look in the moment better than Joel looks because he's still in his [what] looks like skiing boots. But he is here as well. Joe is not running, Virgil is already running, but this is really a tough one.

"We are completely over the moon when they are ready to train with us for the start of pre-season. About the Euros, I didn't think about it.

"I don’t know when you would have to be back that you are able to play the Euros. The week before? The day when the Euros start? I don't know. That's it. I understand maybe the need of that but we cannot make this decision and we will not.

"It's just about when they will be fit, they will be fit. That's how it is."

The Netherlands will face Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia in Group C, while England will take on Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic in Group D.

James Milner is "devastated" by Joe Gomez's latest injury lay-off but is confident his Liverpool team-mate will return even stronger.

Gomez sustained a knee injury during a training session with England last week and will miss "a significant part" of 2020-21 after undergoing surgery.

The 23-year-old recovered from a long-term anterior cruciate ligament injury during his first season at Anfield and also bounced back from a broken leg in 2018.

Fellow centre-back Virgil van Dijk is out for the rest of the season, meanwhile, and makeshift defender Fabinho has also recently had a spell on the sidelines.

From the 52 matches Gomez and Van Dijk have played in together, Liverpool's win percentage is 76.9, compared to 74.5 from the 47 in which one or both has not been present.

Despite Gomez's untimely setback, Milner believes the former Charlton Athletic man has the right mindset to fully recover and pick up from where he left off once he returns.

"We've spoken about Virg a lot, Joe is exactly the same. I'm devastated for him," he told Premier League Productions.

"He's an amazing guy, first and foremost and most importantly, and you don’t want to see it happen to anyone but [especially not] someone like him. 

"As a player, how good he is as well. People forget how young he is and what he's done at this club already and how much he has improved and continues to improve.

"He's still really young. He's been through this once before with a bad injury and came through it stronger, so if anybody has got the mental fortitude to deal with this, it's him. 

"He has been through it before and he came back stronger, and I'm sure that will be the case again.

"Obviously we're gutted for him and how well he's been playing as well. Not only for him as a player and a person, but also for us as a team it's obviously a big miss.

"But, like I say, he's mentally very strong and he'll get through it and come back stronger. We're obviously all here with him and supporting him as much as we can."

Jurgen Klopp faces a selection headache at the back for Liverpool's Premier League clash against high-flying Leicester City with a dearth of fit and available senior centre-backs.

Joel Matip looks certain to start Sunday's match, with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams contenders to play alongside the 29-year-old in the heart of defence.

Phillips impressed on his league debut against West Ham last month, his nine clearances being six more than next best Gomez, while no Liverpool player managed more interceptions (2).

Fabinho is another option after returning to training this week following three weeks out and Milner is adamant his side have enough quality to cope without key players.

"We're blessed to have a lot of good players in the squad, there's always competition for places," he said. 

"The guys who have stepped into the team in recent weeks, at centre-half and any position, have done very well. Rhys and Nat as well. There's options there. 

"Fabinho has done very well when he has played. That's what you have to do as a squad – you have to make changes and adapt to new formations and new positions. 

"We're fortunate to have a lot of good players in the squad and players who can adapt to different positions and deal with that.

"We're lucky to have those options, and I'm sure the manager will work out the best way we’re going to go and go from there."

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool changed "many things" this season due to a fear of injuries, although the plans could not prevent the defensive crisis the champions now face.

The Reds have been without almost every member of their title-winning team at one time or another early in the Premier League campaign, while some key men face long-term lay-offs.

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will not return until late in the season at the earliest and Klopp is scratching around for defensive options for Sunday's game against Leicester City.

Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is out and there were also concerns this week about the fitness of left-back Andy Robertson.

Liverpool's first-choice back four have started just three league games together this term, winning twice, having been in the same XI on 16 occasions in 2019-20, enjoying 14 victories.

Klopp had anticipated problems and cited a change to Alexander-Arnold's role as one tweak, with the England international now attempting fewer crosses from open play - 4.9 per 90 minutes, down from 6.7 last season. He has consequently created 0.9 chances per 90 from open play, down from 1.3.

But the Reds manager could do little to protect Gomez, who played 590 minutes in the league prior to his injury - comfortably more than any other centre-back - due to Van Dijk's setback.

"We thought about it, so we changed many things because of the season for us," Klopp explained.

"You might have seen Trent's role was a different one in the games he played; it was not up and down the wing constantly, it was more in different spaces. That was a little hint of that.

"For a centre-half, there was no chance. Would Joe have played seven games in a row if we had other solutions? No. But we didn't have them, so that's unlucky for all of us and especially for Joe, obviously.

"We change constantly this thought process and we really have to think how we can use the players in the right way, because our target is always long-term, never short-term.

"Yes, we have short-term targets as well, but the main targets are long term.

"We need them. Without the players, we are nothing - and that's why we are really careful, or as careful as we can be."

It is this caution that means Klopp is reluctant to rush Thiago Alcantara back into the fold.

Fabinho is back in team training - a boost as Jordan Henderson is now injured - but Thiago continues to work alone as he recovers from the bruising sustained to his knee in the Merseyside derby last month, the same match in which Van Dijk went down.

Thiago has played only 135 minutes in the Premier League, in which time he has played 161 passes.

"It's the consequence of the injury. It was a hit, a straight hit on the knee," Klopp said.

"I cannot change these things. We have to deal with the consequences of these injuries, these accidents, these fouls in this game. They were fouls in this game.

"If he could have played before, he would have played before. That's why he hasn't. But he's out there on the pitch, he's running, doing a lot of stuff, so it will not be too long anymore.

"On the same day we got the horrible pictures from Virgil and then we were kind of relieved that it's not that serious for Thiago, but it was not going to be two or three days.

"In the first few days, we thought that it would settle quickly but it didn't. That's what we have to accept.

"We will not rush him. We're preparing him for the rest of the season, not for the first game he can play again. That's the situation."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp claimed Mohamed Salah will have felt "social pressure" to attend his brother's wedding, a decision that sparked controversy after he tested positive for coronavirus.

Salah contracted COVID-19 while away on international duty with Egypt and missed his country's fixtures against Togo.

The 28-year-old was criticised after videos emerged of him dancing in a crowd of people at his brother's wedding a few days before he was due to play for Egypt.

He will miss Liverpool's Premier League clash with leaders Leicester City and his availability for their Champions League meeting with Atalanta on November 28 is also in doubt.

Salah has scored eight goals in eight Premier League appearances for Liverpool this season.

Klopp confirmed he had spoken to Salah about the issue but refused to discuss what internal action Liverpool had taken against the player.

"A brother's wedding is a very special moment," Klopp told a media conference on Friday.

"In other countries, in other situations, there's more social, I'm not sure if it's the word but, pressure, and stuff.

"He's probably back today. We are obviously in close contact with him all the time.

"How it always is in these cases is that when you have a negative test the process really starts. He's in a good place. He feels well. No symptoms.

"There is nothing to say in public about it. I have talked to my players about it. Nothing for the public. We are in the situation we are in.

"The rest is between Mo and me. We did that [talk] already and we are fine.

"What I can say about my players is they are incredibly disciplined. Football players in general are very disciplined."

Salah's absence with the virus added to Liverpool's ever-lengthening list of missing players as Klopp lost more key men to injury during the international break.

The most significant was Joe Gomez, who underwent surgery after he sustained a serious knee injury while on England duty.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, felt "a bit of tightness", according to England coach Gareth Southgate and Klopp said he will not be fit to face the Foxes on Sunday.

Virgil van Dijk is a long-term injury absence with a knee issue, while fellow defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is still nursing a hamstring problem.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still continuing his rehab from a knee injury, but midfielders Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara are edging nearer to a return to fitness.

Klopp added: "They [Thiago and Fabinho] are all closer, but we’ll see if it's close enough for the weekend."

The Reds boss remains hopeful Liverpool's injury problems can help foster a sense of esprit de corps among his players.

He said: "We are a unit. A proper, proper unit. The more problems we have, the closer we stick together. 

"We don't go for excuses, we have the situation we have, we don't like the injuries we have because it is really hard for the boys who have the injuries, but all the rest is working on solutions. That's what we always do.

"We have solutions in our mind. Maybe we think we have the worst situation possible, but the season is long and we have only played eight games, so there will be a lot of problems.

"I have always said, whoever deals best with the problems in front of them has a chance to be really successful. That’s what we try to be."

Mohamed Salah has returned a second positive test for coronavirus, confirming the Liverpool talisman will have to go through a period of isolation.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) revealed on Friday that Salah tested positive for COVID-19, though subsequently added that further tests would take place.

However, there has been no reprieve for the 28-year-old star, who again returned a positive result.

Salah will therefore miss Egypt's upcoming double-header with Togo, while he will be unable to feature for Liverpool in their Premier League clash with Leicester City on November 25.

His availability for the Champions League meeting with Atalanta on November 28 is also in doubt.

"Egyptian national team and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah has undergone a second test, and results have confirmed that Salah tested positive for COVID-19," a statement released by the EFA said.

"Salah is keeping a high spirit and is not showing any symptoms of the virus."

The EFA also confirmed they are liaising closely with Liverpool's medical staff.

Salah has been in sensational form for defending champions the Reds this term, netting 10 goals in all competitions and creating more chances than any other player in the Premier League.

It has so far been a costly international break for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who is set to be without Joe Gomez for a significant part of the campaign after the centre-back sustained a knee injury on duty with England, while Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a calf problem in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the Reds' last game.

Gomez underwent successful surgery on Thursday, and on Friday issued a message of thanks for the support he has received.

"The road to recovery has already begun," wrote Gomez in a post on his official social media accounts. 

"I've been here before, I know what it takes and I'll be back stronger than ever. I'm obviously gutted, but this is part of gods [sic] plan and I believe everything happens for a reason.

"I'd like to thank everyone for their well wishes and messages of support. I'm focused on my recovery and supporting my team-mates in every way I can."

Joe Gomez will miss a "significant part" of the season after undergoing knee surgery, Liverpool have confirmed.

The centre-back was injured during England training on Wednesday and returned to his club for further tests.

He had an operation to repair a tendon in his left knee on Thursday and will now being a rehabilitation programme, the Premier League champions said in a statement.

"Liverpool Football Club can confirm Joe Gomez has today undergone successful surgery to repair a tendon in his left knee," the club said.

"The centre-back sustained the injury during a training session with the England national team on Wednesday.

"The issue was isolated to Gomez’s tendon, with no damage to any other associated knee ligaments.

"The operation to correct the damage, which took place in London on Thursday morning, was a success and the 23-year-old will make a full recovery.

"Gomez will begin a rehabilitation programme with the Reds' medical team immediately, with club staff carefully monitoring his progress.

"No timescale is being placed upon his return, though the issue is likely to rule him out for a significant part of the remainder of 2020-21."

The news is a major blow to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who is experiencing something of an injury crisis with his defenders.

Virgil van Dijk is likely to miss the majority of the season after having knee ligament surgery last month, while Fabinho and Joel Matip have also been battling injuries in recent weeks.

Full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold had already withdrawn from the England squad with a calf problem that could reportedly keep him out of action for four weeks.

Liverpool, who sit third in the Premier League table after eight matches, host table-topping Leicester City on November 21 in their first game after the international break.

England manager Gareth Southgate was concerned by the non-contact element of Joe Gomez's knee injury, which was confirmed as the player left the camp.

Following reports of an issue in training, the Football Association (FA) and Liverpool each announced Gomez had withdrawn from the England squad for the friendly with Republic of Ireland and the Nations League matches against Belgium and Iceland.

Gomez will undergo further diagnosis with Liverpool's medical team, the Premier League champions suffering another blow to a defence already hit by injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

It is further pressure on a back line that has conceded 16 goals in eight Premier League games this season, an average of two per match, having shipped 0.87 per game in their triumphant 2019-20 campaign.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of the Ireland match, Southgate said of Gomez's injury: "I can't tell you how serious it is because he’s yet to have scans.

"What was upsetting was to see he was in a fair bit of pain. There was nobody around him when the injury happened and I didn't like that element of it. 

"We've got to wait and see what the scans show. We're all hopeful for him that it's not what it looks like it might be."

It has been a tumultuous week for the FA, which has seen chairman Greg Clarke resign from his post.

Clarke stepped down after receiving heavy criticism for his use of the term "coloured footballers" in a meeting with a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

Asked to weigh in on Clarke's exit, Southgate replied: "The terminology he used in a number of areas was not acceptable.

"It doesn't reflect the view of the FA and doesn't reflect what we as a team stand for. I don't think he had any alternative but to take the decision he did and resign."

He added: "We had spoken positively about [diversity] the day before, so I felt it was necessary to explain that what happened yesterday wasn't acceptable and didn't represent what we stand for as a team.  

"[The FA] is as diverse an organisation as I've ever been a part of, so internally there was a lot of upset about what had been said and I think Greg recognised that, alongside the other challenges what he said yesterday brought about, the internal upset was massive.

"There have been messages in society all summer about educating ourselves and I think a lot of us have done that over the last six months in particular.

"As an organisation, we have to make change. We can't keep standing in front of the cameras talking about change."

Liverpool's defensive injury crisis may have deepened further after it was reported Joe Gomez could be facing a lengthy absence.

Gomez is said to have suffered an injury during an England training session ahead of the friendly against Republic of Ireland on Thursday.

Premier League champions Liverpool are already facing the prospect of being without Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the season due to a serious knee injury the centre-back sustained in the derby against Everton last month.

Full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is expected to be out for around for around a month due to a calf problem he picked up in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.

The loss of Gomez would leave Jurgen Klopp seriously depleted at the back and hoping Fabinho, who had filled in at centre-back, will soon be able to return from a hamstring injury.

Here we use Opta data from Liverpool's top-flight matches since Van Dijk's debut in January 2018 to look at the potential impact being without Gomez and the Netherlands international could have on the Reds.


More points, defence no tighter

In the Premier League games Gomez has featured in since Van Dijk's bow, the Merseyside giants have won 43 out of 56 and lost just four.

Klopp's men have conceded an average of 0.8 goals in each game both with and without Gomez during that time.

With Gomez involved, the Reds have a favourable win percentage of 76.6 compared to 74.4 when he has played no part. They have averaged 2.5 points per game when the former Charlton man has played and 2.4 when he has not. 

Gomez and VVD a profitable pairing

From the 52 matches Gomez and Van Dijk have played in together, Liverpool's win percentage is 76.9 compared to 74.5 from the 47 in which one or both has not been present.

The Reds have averaged an impressive 2.5 points per game with the duo featuring, that number dropping to 2.4 without at least one of them.

There has been no difference in the number of goals conceded, though, with just 0.8 shipped in each game when both, one, or neither have been involved.

Jordan Henderson has questioned the "harsh" penalty call that went against Liverpool in their 1-1 draw with Manchester City and says his side have to be happy with a point.

City were awarded a penalty after Kevin De Bruyne's cross hit Joe Gomez on the arm, with referee Craig Pawson pointing to the spot after a lengthy wait that involved him checking the pitchside monitor.

However, De Bruyne was unable to convert from 12 yards - the first time a player has missed the target entirely from the spot in a Premier League game since City's Riyad Mahrez against Liverpool in October 2018.

It was the second controversial penalty call of the day after Max Kilman was penalised for handling Dennis Praet's cross in Leicester City's 1-0 win over Wolves.

And while Henderson understands why City were given a penalty, he does not agree with the current handball laws.

"People will say I am biased because it is against us, but I saw one similar in the Leicester game as well," he told Sky Sports. "Joe is running back to his own goal, where is he going to put his arms? 

"I think it is so difficult for defenders. I felt it was harsh, but they have been pretty consistent. In the Leicester game they gave it and they gave it [for Man City] but for us as players I think it is harsh.

"Hopefully the refs can look at it. They shouldn't have been given in both games."

Gomez was equally frustrated at the decision, arguing that he had no chance of moving his arm away from the ball.

"On a personal note, it's frustrating," he said. "I think everyone knows the power that Kevin De Bruyne can hit the ball with. 

"In that moment, I'm just running towards goal. I'm not going to run with my hands behind my back and I'm not going to dispute the ball hitting my hand, but I've not made an attempt to try and handle it. 

"Then it's frustrating when the referee goes over and looks in slow motion at something that has happened in real time when De Bruyne has hit the ball as hard as he has. 

"I've got to accept his decision, but I think there are enough conversations going on around that rule at the minute. 

"You have to look at the scenario with some common sense and just think, what could I have done?"

Mohamed Salah had earlier fired Liverpool ahead from the penalty spot after Kyle Walker lunged in on Sadio Mane, but Gabriel Jesus equalised 18 minutes later in a high-quality first half.

The second period was less eventful, with the sides managing just one shot on target between them compared to four in the first half, and neither team managed to sneak a victory.

The draw ultimately suits Liverpool more than City, keeping the champions five points in front of their opponents having played one game more.

City failed to register a shot on target after Jesus' leveller and had just seven shots overall, which is their lowest in a league game on home soil since February 2010 - also against Liverpool (five).

And Jesus, who has now scored in three successive games for City, concedes it feels like an opportunity missed for his side to close the gap.

"Both teams wanted to win. Sometimes when it's like this you have to control the ball more," he said. "We have to keep playing like this and try to convert the chances.

"We played at home and we have to win the games here. The result is not good for us and maybe it's good for them."

Jurgen Klopp is confident centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will have little issue forming an effective partnership in the absence of Liverpool talisman Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk is set to miss at least the majority of the current campaign after suffering knee ligament damage in a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during last week's Merseyside derby.

Matip missed the midweek win over Ajax, meaning Fabinho stepped into defence, but Klopp's options are limited moving forward.

Dejan Lovren left at the end of last season, leaving Gomez and Matip as the club's only remaining natural centre-backs.

Klopp expects the duo to adapt and "fight together", although they are yet to start alongside each other in this role due to Van Dijk's dominance.

"The reason for that is because I think Virg played pretty much all the games and one of them was injured," Klopp said.

"As long as Dejan Lovren was still here and Dejan was in that moment fit, [he could play].

"I didn't know they had never played together, I didn't know that, but they can play together – not a shadow of a doubt.

"As I said for the Fabinho and Joe pairing, they need to get used to each other and the full-backs need to get used to them. The more stability you have in this line, the better.

"We never had that really – especially one position was always with a lot of changes.

"They will fight together, there is no doubt about that. It is football and it didn't become rocket science overnight. We can help them with information but then they will get tested every three days – that's the situation."

Meanwhile, Klopp was asked for his thoughts on Marcus Rashford's work campaigning to end child hunger.

The Manchester United forward spent Friday promoting offers of free meals from restaurants around the United Kingdom on his social media pages after the government voted against maintaining a scheme to serve this purpose through school holidays.

"It's just nice to show in a time when obviously a lot of people who are really in charge of something and don't show any sign of proper leadership, that a boy grown up in difficult circumstances, blessed with a sensational talent obviously, never forgot his roots and where he is coming from," Klopp said.

"That he has to do it then is a bit of a shame but is wonderful as well. I hope his mother is really proud of him. I don't know him but even I am.

"He plays for United, which makes it really tricky. But it's really an absolutely wonderful, wonderful thing."

Liverpool may need to make a January move for a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk's serious knee injury. 

The Premier League champions were dealt a huge blow with Van Dijk set to miss most - if not the remainder - of the season after a tackle from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby draw against Everton. 

Liverpool have been left with just two senior centre-backs – Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – with Van Dijk's injury, although defensive midfielder Fabinho can also provide cover. 

Unsurprisingly, there have been transfer rumours in the aftermath, with the Reds linked with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White. 

Having joined Leipzig from Salzburg for a reported €10million in 2017, Upamecano re-signed earlier this year, but he apparently has a €42m release clause in his contract – although that can only be triggered at season's end. 

Upamecano is highly rated in Europe and, using Opta data, we assess how his performances compare to Liverpool's defenders.

Bright future awaits, but would Upamecano improve Liverpool?

Upamecano, 21, helped RB Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.

The France international's tackling numbers were particularly impressive when compared to Liverpool defenders Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip.

In the Bundesliga last season, Upamecano had 1.95 tackles per 90 minutes – with Matip (1.66 per 90 in just nine Premier League games) the closest of Liverpool's trio. However, only Van Dijk (52.2) had a worse tackle success rate than Upamecano (58.8), with Gomez and Matip both above 69.

In the Champions League, Upamecano had 3.4 tackles per 90 minutes , well above Van Dijk (1.08) and Gomez (1.59), and also at a better rate (56) than the Liverpool trio. Matip, often injured in 2019-20, played just 90 minutes in total in Europe's top club competition last season.

Ready to do battle

Upamecano contested the most duels (87) of the four in the Champions League, and went at a success rate of 71.26, similar to Van Dijk (70 duels and 74.29 success rate), while he also had a comparable number of headed clearances per 90 minutes (2.04 to Van Dijk's 2.28) and interceptions (1.63 to 1.08). Gomez had 2.64 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Champions League last season.

Van Dijk's absence will also hurt Liverpool aerially, with the Dutchman an imposing figure in Jurgen Klopp's back four.

Upamecano, who stands at 186cm, was between Van Dijk and Gomez when it came to aerial duels last season. He won 18 of 27 aerials in the 2019-20 Champions League, a rate worse than Van Dijk (33 of 47) but better than Gomez (24 of 41).

It was a similar story in the respective leagues, although he contested fewer than Liverpool defenders. An area Upamecano fell short in, at least domestically, was in being dribbled past by an opponent, which happened 20 times in 28 Bundesliga games, a figure ranking him below both Van Dijk (seven times in 38) and Gomez (11 in 28), but ahead of Matip (seven in nine). 

Boosting Liverpool's build-up play

A problem set to be exacerbated by Alisson's injury absence, Van Dijk's passing ability in defence is also important to how Liverpool function.

In this area, Upamecano may offer the Reds the most. In the Champions League last season, his passing accuracy in the opposition half was 83.1 – higher than the Liverpool trio, including Van Dijk (82.7). When it came to passing accuracy ending in the final third, Upamecano again topped the list (74.1), ahead of Gomez (71.6), and that included averaging 11.7 passes into the final third per 90 minutes.

In domestic action, Upamecano also topped the list in these categories, and his passing accuracy in the opposition half to begin this Bundesliga season is 84.7, while Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip have all dropped off from last season in this area.

Joe Gomez believes there were positives for Liverpool to build from after their Merseyside derby draw with Everton as they prepare to do battle with Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

With eight games to play, Liverpool are 20 points clear of Manchester City as they close in on a first title in the Premier League era.

Liverpool drew 0-0 away to rivals Everton in their first match back after the coronavirus lockdown on Sunday and welcome Palace to Anfield next. 

England international Gomez had to step in at left-back when he came on for the injured James Milner, who was already deputising for regular starter Andy Robertson.

"Unfortunately we didn't get the three points but it was a step closer at the end of the day," Gomez told the club's website.

"I think the familiarisation [of Anfield and having played the first game without fans] will help us in the next performance. Obviously it will be a tough game, but hopefully we can build on it."

Gomez made a key contribution when he deflected a Tom Davies shot onto the post as Everton launched a late flurry of attacks, but he felt Liverpool were the better side as they get ready to face Palace.

"It was a heart-in-mouth moment, moments like that I think it is just instinct, it could go either way - a couple of centimetres and it would have been a different result," he said.

"Obviously they had their fair few good chances but we like to think we came away dominating the game. There are definitely positives we can take from it, it is just about building on that now."

Of his positional change, Gomez added: "It was strange really. It wasn't expected and obviously I'm no Robbo.

"But it is part and parcel of the game sometimes, you have to do your best to help the team and get your result. 

"Everyone knows Robbo is our main man but I have learned to adapt in a way and full-back is a position I have played, albeit mainly on the right."

Jurgen Klopp confirmed in his pre-match media conference that Robertson was back in training and therefore in contention to face Palace.

The lockdown may have prevented Liverpool's players from training as usual, but Joe Gomez thinks the experience has actually brought Jurgen Klopp's squad even closer together.

Liverpool players returned to their Melwood training base for the first time in two months last week to take part in small group sessions at staggered times. 

Prior to that, the Premier League leaders had to keep fit at home due to the lockdown measures implemented by the United Kingdom government, which were designed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Videos on social media showed the Reds would often conduct group sessions via video links and Gomez feels it has been a bonding experience for the group.

"Yeah, I think so, because we've had to have communication in a different way; it's not been the standard come in and see each other by force every day," he explained to Liverpool's website.

"We've had to reach out as individuals and really stay connected by choice. That's when you grow fonder of each other and closer because it's been a tough time that we've come through together.

"It has been beneficial in that sense, that as a team we've been so connected and kept communication through the whole thing.

"I think having that time apart, to then come together again last week made it feel that much more special."

Klopp's side have not played a game since losing 3-2 to Atletico Madrid after extra time at Anfield on March 11 to exit the Champions League at the last-16 stage.

Despite that, Gomez has been impressed with how his team-mates have been able to maintain their sharpness in lockdown.

"As a team, just seeing the lads already, everyone has kept that foundation of fitness," he claimed.

"We obviously had a rigorous programme that the fitness guys set out for us and everyone stuck to.

"So it doesn't feel like we're starting from scratch, but I suppose because of the break we are. But everyone is raring to go and just enjoying the process."

Though the Premier League has been suspended since March, the competition is still hoping to resume next month.

Virgil van Dijk is "a dominant force" and Liverpool team-mate Joe Gomez relishes being able to play alongside him.

Gomez and Van Dijk have formed a solid partnership at the heart of the Premier League's best defence, with the former having overcome significant injury problems to establish himself in Jurgen Klopp's starting XI.

Van Dijk arrived at Anfield in January 2018 as the world's most expensive defender, a record that has since been surpassed by Harry Maguire's switch to Manchester United, and quickly struck up a close relationship with the England international.

"I've said it before, but the stature of Virgil before he came to the club was massive," Gomez told Sky Sports.

"I was a young centre-back, hadn't really gotten as many games [at Liverpool] as I would have liked but as soon as he came in, he reached out with open arms and we formed a bond straight away.

"The fact that he is a down-to-earth person off the pitch, we get on really well and we have a great relationship.

"We talk and in times like this, we FaceTime and speak about general things so that helps on the pitch when you have an understanding. He's your mate at the end of the day.

"Sometimes he gives me an earful, but it's a massive help and a confidence booster just having someone like him beside you. When there's a one-on-one battle, you know he's going to dominate, he doesn't really lose headers at all.

"Just having him alongside you and his presence, it's not just me, it's the whole team and the stadium. When Virgil goes down, I think there is a bit of a gasp and a worry but he's a real dominant force and a pleasure to play alongside."

Gomez joined Liverpool from Charlton Athletic as an 18-year-old in 2015 and admits it took time for him to understand the size of the club and the expectations that would be upon him.

"Football was all I knew and looking back, it was daunting," said Gomez. "It's a massive club and to be honest, I don't think I realised the stature of the club and what I was getting in to in terms of the expectation.

"But I think you have to take it head on and you have to accept that when you don't perform, you have to take it on the chin and there's going to be backlash – not in the negative sense, but just through expectation. Around the club, it has such a strong history and you have to uphold that.

"I think as soon as I went into pre-season, I realised the size of the club. I was used to staying in the UK and going for a training camp somewhere, but in my first Liverpool pre-season, we went to Thailand. We turned up to the hotel and it was ridiculous, security everywhere and hundreds of people. Straight away from there, I realised.

"We then flew to Australia and played against Brisbane Roar and the stadium was packed. That was the first time I heard 'You'll Never Walk Alone' and I thought, 'Yeah, this is a different scale.'"

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