Paul Pogba is available again for Manchester United after being named on the bench for Sunday's trip to Watford.

France international Pogba has been out since September with a foot injury, with him last featuring for the Red Devils in their 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford nearly three months ago.

During his time on the sidelines media reports had suggested he might have already played his final match for the club, with illness ruling him out recently.

But manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reaffirmed his desire to keep Pogba despite links with a move to Real Madrid and the talented midfielder could make his return at Vicarage Road.

Otherwise there are few surprises in the United team, with Marcus Rashford supported as usual by Anthony Martial and Daniel James in attack.

Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay and Fred line up in midfield, with Pogba waiting in the wings to likely replace one of them if deemed necessary.

Victory for United against their rock-bottom hosts will move them up to fifth in the Premier League, a point behind Chelsea who face Tottenham later in the day.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted Paul Pogba was doing everything possible to get fit for Manchester United amid ongoing speculation over his future.

Pogba has not played since September and appears likely to remain on the sidelines when United face Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

The midfielder battled an ankle injury before a poorly timed illness, diagnosed upon his return from brother Florentin's wedding in France, further delayed his comeback.

Solskjaer recently said the rumoured Real Madrid target would not be sold in January and remains confident about his commitment to the club.

"All I can say is that Paul is working as hard as he can to get back and you will see him smile again as soon as he's back on the pitch," Solskjaer told reporters.

"He is a Manchester United player, someone we are really happy to have in the squad and one of the best players in the world, but he needs to be fit.

"Everyone is allowed to be injured from time to time. I was out for 18 months once and of course I attended weddings and did all sorts of different things during that period, but it was still a bad time for me because I wasn't playing football.

"Being out for a long time like Paul is the worst thing that can happen to a player because everyone wants to play.

"It's a proper mental test for a footballer because there's nothing more disheartening."

United and Solskjaer hope to have World Cup winner Pogba back in a matchday squad before the end of 2019.

That leaves the Premier League games against Newcastle United and Burnley as potential targets if he fails to feature at Watford.

"He's back in training, that's a step forward for us. I'm not going to push him. It depends how he feels," Solskjaer said.

"When he's fit, he's fit. Obviously it's frustrating to be without a player of his quality for so long, but it's part of football. You always want to play your strongest team but you have to plan for different scenarios.

"The rest of the team have stepped up and done well while Paul has been out."

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.

Jurgen Klopp said Georginio Wijnaldum missing Liverpool's Club World Cup bid was "the more likely scenario" after the midfielder sustained a hamstring injury against Watford.

Wijnaldum left the field after just under an hour of Liverpool's 2-0 victory at Anfield, the fly in the ointment on an otherwise satisfactory afternoon's work for the Premier League leaders.

Klopp said that injuries are his side's major concern as they look to maintain their lead at the top of the table while negotiating a trip to Qatar during a packed December schedule.

"It looks like with each game you lose one player and that's not too cool," Klopp told BT Sport. "That's our main problem.

"The fixtures are like they are, we know that, but losing players in this type of situation is not cool. We'll deal with it but it makes life not easy."

Asked whether Wijnaldum had a chance of travelling to Qatar with the squad on Sunday, Klopp said: "I have no idea. Today we'll make an assessment and make a decision.

"If he cannot train and has to do rehab then he'll stay here and that's the more likely scenario at the moment."

Despite having to cope without the injured Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Fabinho, Klopp dismissed the suggestion that fatigue is currently an issue for Liverpool.

The Reds' performance against Watford was at times disjointed and only poor finishing prevented the Hornets from taking a first-half lead.

But Klopp praised his side's response and the performance of goalkeeper Alisson, saying: "The most important thing you have to show in this period of the season is resilience. The boys were ready for a big fight.

"They [Watford] had a completely new set-up and did really well. They had their chances.

"Could the game have been easier for us? Of course, if we keep the ball smarter and move passes around.

"The boys are not tired but it's intense to be constantly in charge of a game. We have to defend at some moments with passion instead of organisation because that was not always perfect, but when we did let them in Ali [Alisson] was there."

In a week of deliberation over who might lead the country, English football remains in little doubt over its elect group of players.

But while many feel the current Liverpool side is born to rule, they were asked some tricky questions by a Watford team recently revived by a change of leadership.

There was a high turnout but no landslide victory against Watford at Anfield, where the Reds chalked up their 16th consecutive Premier League home win by a 2-0 scoreline thanks to Mohamed Salah's double.

And while their seat at the top of the table looks safe, canvass for opinion around Merseyside and you will find even the most dyed-in-the-wool Reds reluctant to suggest the balance of power has swung decisively in their favour.

But six more home league wins in a row would see Jurgen Klopp's men eclipse the all-time record streak of 21 set by Bill Shankly's title-winning team of 1972-73, who saw governance of the top flight as their birthright.

For a home crowd watching a team guaranteed to be top of the Premier League table at Christmas, Anfield was strangely subdued during the opening exchanges between Klopp's rotated side and visitors Watford.

New boss Nigel Pearson looked to have assembled a strong opposition during a cagey opening spell that saw the incumbent leaders fail to muster a shot on goal for 22 minutes - the longest wait for a Reds attempt in a home league game since October 2016 against Manchester United.

Pearson could hardly be accused of the kind of negative campaigning Jose Mourinho so often employed during his time at United, with Watford offering a more incisive threat in the opening half-hour thanks to the positive endeavours of Will Hughes and Gerard Deulofeu.

With Andy Robertson on the bench, Liverpool looked momentarily vulnerable at left-back when Etienne Capoue skipped beyond stand-in James Milner before teeing up Abdoulaye Doucoure for a wasteful miss that was punished at the other end just 58 seconds later.

Roberto Firmino's overhead kick launched Sadio Mane down the Liverpool left and he in turn released Mohamed Salah, who fooled Kiko Femenia before nonchalantly curling home with his right foot.

It was not the first time Liverpool's Egyptian king has lorded it over Watford, and a last-minute tap-in means Salah has eight goals and one assist in five Premier League appearances against the Hornets.

But Klopp's cabinet includes many inspirational leaders. Some credit for this win must also go to Mane, so often the player who helps lay the foundations upon which Salah excels.

Mane has set up four goals against Watford in the Premier League, more than he has managed against any other side in the top tier. All four of those assists have been for Salah, too.

Klopp will hope Mane makes a habit of teeing up goals during the busy weeks ahead; the Senegal international has three assists in his past two Premier League games, as many as he managed in his previous 56 appearances.

Clean sheets also help – Klopp will certainly vote for shut-outs to become another long-running trend.

James Milner hailed Liverpool's battling qualities after they maintained their remarkable Premier League form with a scrappy 2-0 win over rock-bottom Watford.

Two goals from Mohamed Salah earned a 16th win in 17 league games for the runaway leaders at a windy Anfield, but Liverpool certainly did not have things all their own way as their struggling opponents offered a consistent threat on the counter-attack.

In their first game under new head coach Nigel Pearson, Watford were guilty of two awful misses - from Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr - either side of Salah's first-half opener and the visitors remained in the contest until the Egypt international struck again in the final minute of normal time.

"They were always going to be up for it, a new manager coming in. We know what Nige is like as well," Milner told BT Sport. "They're having a bad time but we knew it would be tough and it proved to be that."

Asked about the breezy conditions, Milner, who followed manager Jurgen Klopp in signing a contract extension on Friday, added:  "It's not nice, obviously. It affects everything, the touch, the longer passes, crosses, but you have to deal with it. It's the same for both teams and sometimes you've just got to scrap it out.

"It can't always be pretty and nice football, and that's an important result, to get those three points in the way we did, battling it out."

Salah's first goal came 58 seconds after Doucoure had mis-kicked at the other end with a clear sight of goal, the Liverpool forward cutting in from the left following a slick break and beating Ben Foster with a glorious curling finish.

"I've been practicing with my right foot," said a smiling Salah, who went on to seal victory with a cute flick from Divock Origi's scuffed shot.

"We played against a tough team today. I think they should be better positioned than what they are. Hopefully we keep on winning in the next few games."

Salah's late second quelled any nerves among the home fans and he added: "I think now we have more experience. We've played together for three or four years, so we know when we can make the game calm, when we can make it fast.

"Sometimes the crowd, they get panicky a little bit, but we have experience. We have won a few games 1-0 so it's fine."

 

Liverpool made hard work of beating rock-bottom Watford 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday and also suffered another injury blow as Georginio Wijnaldum limped off ahead his side's Club World Cup trip.

A day on from manager Jurgen Klopp signing a contract extension to 2024, the runaway leaders were well below their brilliant best but nevertheless claimed victory through two goals from Mohamed Salah, the second coming in the 90th minute.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr were guilty of horrible misses for Watford either side of Salah's first strike seven minutes before half-time and there were several other presentable chances for Watford in their first game under Nigel Pearson.

However, Liverpool - who also had a goal ruled out by VAR - ultimately did enough to claim victory and will now hope for a positive update on Wijnaldum as they prepare for a Club World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Liverpool's previous three home games against Watford had yielded an aggregate score of 16-1, but this was certainly no cakewalk.

Despite having less than 30 per cent possession in the first period, Watford regularly threatened on the counter-attack, enjoying success down the flanks.

However, both Doucoure and Sarr mis-kicked horribly when given clear sights of goal in the Liverpool box and the first of those misses was punished inside 58 seconds as the hosts scored from their only shot on target prior to half-time.

An incisive Liverpool break ended with Salah latching on to Sadio Mane's pass into the left channel, before cutting inside Kiko Femenia all too easily and curling a gorgeous finish beyond Ben Foster into the top right-hand corner.

Watford continued to look dangerous after the break and Alisson was forced into stops from Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu either side of Mane seeing a 50th-minute goal ruled out for offside following a VAR review.

A lack of quality in the final third was prevalent thereafter, with Roberto Firmino particularly sloppy, but Liverpool – now 11 points clear at the top of the table ahead of Leicester City's clash with Norwich City - eventually added a second as Salah flicked home a scuffed shot from substitute Divock Origi.

What does it mean? Ugly win no problem amid hectic schedule

Liverpool may not have been particularly impressive, but Klopp is unlikely to mind one bit. December is an intense month for the league leaders and securing another win - their 16th from 17 league games - was essentially all that matters.

Deulofeu's efforts go unrewarded

So much of Watford's best play came down the flanks, with Deulofeu particularly influential. The tricky winger should have crowned an impressive performance with a second-half goal, but failed to beat Alisson after being put through one-on-one.

Sarr has a shocker

If Doucoure's spurned chance was clumsy, the midfielder failing to make clean contact when unmarked by the penalty spot, Sarr's subsequent mis-kick was a real shocker. Alisson palmed a Deulofeu cross straight into the winger's path, but Sarr almost missed the ball completely having had time to settle himself. The effort summed up Sarr's general lack of quality in the final third as he wasted a host of promising opportunities.

What's next?

Liverpool's senior squad now head to the Club World Cup in Qatar as their youngsters face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup. The Reds' next Premier League meeting is a tantalising Boxing Day clash at second-placed Leicester, while Watford host Manchester United next Sunday.

Liverpool's injury problems worsened ahead of the Club World Cup as Georginio Wijnaldum was forced off with an apparent hamstring problem in the second half of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford.

Already missing Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Fabinho amid a hectic run of fixtures, Jurgen Klopp saw Wijnaldum pull up lame early in the second half on Saturday, with the Reds a goal to the good.

Wijnaldum was unable to continue after brief on-field treatment and limped off to be replaced by Andy Robertson, with James Milner switching from left-back to midfield.

Liverpool will head to Qatar after the Watford game for two Club World Cup fixtures, starting with a semi-final contest on Wednesday. It now remains to be seen whether Wijnaldum will be fit for that trip.

The runaway Premier League leaders then face second-placed Leicester City on Boxing Day in a key domestic contest.

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Dejan Lovren has a more serious muscle injury than before, adding he cannot put a time frame on the centre-back's recovery.

Lovren went off after 53 minutes of the 2-0 Champions League win away to Salzburg on Tuesday, having managed only 40 minutes of the 3-0 Premier League victory over Bournemouth last weekend.

The defender will miss Saturday's game against Watford at Anfield and Klopp admits he is unsure when the 30-year-old will be able to return.

"He is out, muscle this time – more serious than last time," Klopp told reporters on Friday. "We don't have a time frame."

With Joel Matip also sidelined with a knee injury, Klopp has only Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez as his senior centre-back options amid a gruelling run of fixtures.

After the Watford match, a team largely comprising youth and fringe players will face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, with the rest of the squad in action in a Club World Cup semi-final 24 hours later.

With league games against second-place Leicester City and Wolves to come before the turn of the year, Klopp accepts his lack of defenders is a worry.

"It's a concern," he said. "It's not the first time we are in a situation like this: last year, one game Fabinho played at centre-half. Unfortunately, he is out as well. It's not too cool.

"At the moment we have two – we should take care of them, pack them in cotton wool and ask them what they want to do in training. Apart from that, we have to be creative; we have the kids, of course, with Ki-Jana [Hoever] and Sepp [van den Berg].

"We have defensive-minded midfielders, there are different systems where you can use different kind of defenders as well. That's how it is.

"At the moment, I have a lot of ideas, but I hope for most of them I never have to use them, to be honest."

Klopp, who signed a new contract that runs until 2024 on Friday, will be hoping for a 16th win from 17 league games this season against Watford, as Liverpool aim to maintain their eight-point lead at the top.

Jurgen Klopp engaged in a comical exchange with a Japanese journalist at Friday's news conference, hinting at Takumi Minamino's imminent arrival at Liverpool.

Salzburg star Minamino has been one of the Austrian club's star players over the past year, impressing in the Europa League last season and in the Champions League this term.

Liverpool had been able to take a particularly close look at the Japan international when the two clubs played one another twice in the Champions League group stage, with Minamino again catching the eye against the Reds in their 2-0 win on Tuesday.

Since then, media speculation has claimed Liverpool have already secured a deal to sign the attacking midfielder in January.

Klopp, who was speaking following confirmation of his new four-and-a-half-year contract, would not be drawn on the rumours but took a mischievous tone when a Japanese journalist raised his hand for a question.

"Why are you here?" Klopp quipped, adding: "I think we'll see you more often now."

But instead of asking Klopp about Minamino, the reporter actually queried the German on Shinji Kagawa, the Japanese player he worked with at Borussia Dortmund.

Klopp replied: "Look, he doesn't speak about Minamino, he speaks about Shinji Kagawa!

"I love that, that's great, and smart. I loved working with Shinji, a great experience because I didn't have much of an idea about Japanese football before I met Shinji. We saw him on video and signed him from watching him on video.

"We were not sure about him, but after first time training, in the dressing room, all of the coaches were just hugging each other, [saying], 'Oh my God, we've got a super player'.

"I had two years with Shinji, and you know better than I do, but the attitude of Japanese players is outstanding, smart, technically really good usually, work-rate outstanding, really dynamic and nice people.

"I still try to follow his career – it was just a great experience."

Earlier, Klopp batted away a question relating to the apparently imminent arrival of Minamino, though he did acknowledge rating the 24-year-old highly.

"There's nothing else to say," Klopp remarked. "We speak about it in the moment like we do about all transfers – or potential transfers – when it's sorted, so [I have] nothing to say about it.

"He's a very good player, I can say that, but I saw many good players in the Salzburg team, more than I wanted to see, but that's it."

Jurgen Klopp is unsure about the prospect of never leaving Liverpool but feels the length of his new four-and-a-half-year contract feels "like forever in football" anyway.

Liverpool confirmed on Friday that Klopp has committed to a new contract – a two-year extension to his previous deal – that will keep him at Anfield until 2024.

It comes as a just reward for the Reds' remarkable 2019-20 to date, with Liverpool eight points clear at the Premier League summit having only failed to win one – a 1-1 draw with Manchester United – of their 16 games this term.

If Klopp manages to see out his new contract, he will have been at the club for almost nine years, having joined in 2015.

And while the German was unwilling to commit to never leaving the club, he acknowledged the significant length of the new deal.

"Forever? I'm not sure, but I think four-and-a-half years from now sounds like forever in football," Klopp told reporters in his pre-match news conference ahead of facing Watford.

"It would be nine years, the longest spell I've been at a club. I'm just looking forward to it. One reason for this extension is so we don't speak about it anymore, because that's very important.

"I understand the questions, but for the next three-and-a-half years, no one has to talk about it. We will see what happens.

"The plan is to make it the best time of our life, which hasn't been too bad until now, but we don't have a feeling that it can't be even better, so let's make the best time of our lives of it, enjoy the ride.

"I never thought about leaving before 2022, but you get constantly confronted with it and you think, 'Okay, it could end', and then I wouldn't see people I have real relationships with.

"The club was asking for a while if we could talk about extending and, at this moment, I thought it makes sense before things maybe get intense.

"Not now obviously, it was calm as it should be, but maybe in the summer [end of the season] we would've started again, talking about things like that, and new players coming in are asking how long the manager is going to be here. We all wanted to avoid that."

Klopp's assistants Peter Krawietz and Pepijn Lijnders also renewed their deals and he stressed their importance to the Reds' development.

"I've worked with Peter 18, 19 years, I think, and still all good," he said. "And Pep, it's four years I think.

"He [Lijnders] gets better and better and better over the years. We really improved a lot and bringing Pep in in a different role refreshed the system.

"I think he's an outstanding coach, plenty of ideas, so it was clear for me that I wanted to have the consolation. I had to ask them first, they were happy.

"It's the same thing, we enjoy the working together, the boys wanted to be part of the project and they want to do it together. I'm really happy, they're incredibly important."

Watford ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats, but Hayden Mullins' brief spell as interim manager concluded without a victory as Crystal Palace held them to a 0-0 draw.

The Hornets confirmed Nigel Pearson as their new manager on Friday, but he watched from the stands as Palace left Vicarage Road with a hard-earned point.

A first half of few chances was only notable for Wilfried Zaha's display, as the Ivory Coast international was involved in a couple of flashpoints, seemingly angering his manager Roy Hodgson.

Watford dominated after the interval, with Gerard Deulofeu going close before substitute Ismaila Sarr enjoyed a lively cameo, failing to convert two decent opportunities.

Palace held on, and Zaha – who continued to get caught up in off-the-ball tussles – somewhat surprisingly managed to avoid earning a second yellow card, as Watford remain bottom and the visitors move above Manchester United into seventh for at least a few hours.

Nigel Pearson will lead Watford's survival mission after returning to the Premier League as head coach of the Hornets.

The former Leicester City manager succeeds Quique Sanchez Flores, whose short-lived second spell at Vicarage Road was brought to an end last weekend after a sore defeat to Southampton.

Pearson has signed a contract initially until the end of the season, Watford said on their official website.

The Hornets sit bottom of the Premier League with eight points from 15 matches. Pearson, 56, becomes their third head coach of the campaign, after Javi Gracia and Flores.

Watford chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury said: "Nigel is an impressive coach and comes with all of the experience and success we believe can have a very positive impact on our season.

"It's been a pleasure spending time listening to the passion with which he talks about the game. His enthusiasm, organisation and motivation will I'm certain prove essential in driving the team forwards and upwards over the coming weeks and months."

Former England Under-21 boss Pearson previously managed Leicester in the top flight, in the second of his two spells with the Foxes, and has also had stints in charge of clubs including Southampton, Derby County and Hull City. His last job was with OH Leuven in Belgium.

Pearson will be presented to Watford's supporters at Saturday's home game against Crystal Palace, but the team will be managed by interim boss Hayden Mullins, Watford said.

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