Mauricio Pochettino called for support from fans after Chelsea were booed off at the end of Sunday’s 4-2 defeat to Wolves.

The Argentinian, who apologised for the manner in which his team capitulated after taking the lead in the first half at Stamford Bridge, said his young side need backing if they are to turn around what until now has been another woeful Premier League season.

The Blues are 11th after losing to Gary O’Neil’s side, with 10 defeats from their 23 league games.

Supporters responded by singing the name of former owner Roman Abramovich, and jeered Pochettino and his team off the field at half-time and again at the final whistle.

Matheus Cunha’s hat-trick had earned Wolves their first win at Chelsea since 1979 and was well deserved, with the visitors the more inventive and clinical in possession while Pochettino’s side suffered from a familiar lack of creativity.

Yet it was a perceived absence of fight that most angered supporters.

“We apologise to the fans,” said Pochettino. “The perception is one thing, another is the reality. The perception is Chelsea should be in a different position, but for different circumstances we are not there. Maybe because we are not good enough. But what can we do?

“The most important thing now is to feel the responsibility. We need to accept that is the organisation and of course the players that we have.

“To understand the fans is really important. We want to apologise and feel sorry. We are disappointed like them, but until the end we need to fight all together. If we want good results in the future, we need to stay together. During 90 minutes, we need to try to work together.

“With the capacity, the fans will be right to criticise and be angry if the performance is not good. But it’s important (to remember) the players are young. They need support.”

Much of the fury was directed at Pochettino personally, the first clear sign of his tenure that backing for the manager is under strain.

“During the moment, it’s not nice,” he said. “But I think we have to move on. You need to convince the players, push them to never give up and be brave and to recover. It’s the leader that needs to be there, to have the composure to push them.

“We can talk, but we are in the dugout. The players need to feel the confidence, to feel fresh to compete again.

“They feel the pressure and they need the help from the fans during 90 minutes. It’s not to demand nothing. But it’s easy to be outside watching. When the stress arrives, sometimes it’s not easy. We need to be behind them.”

Matheus Cunha’s hat-trick helped Wolves claim a 4-2 comeback victory at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea dropped into the bottom half of the Premier League table.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side were booed off by home fans at the end of a second loss in four days, whilst the name of former owner Roman Abramovich could be heard ringing around the ground.

Cole Palmer’s goal had seemed to have his side on their way to a fifth home league win in a row when he slotted in after 19 minutes.

Thereafter however, Gary O’Neil’s team dictated everything, with Cunha leading the way, although Chelsea will deem themselves unfortunate to have conceded from two big deflections in the first half, one of which was given as an own goal against Axel Disasi.

Thiago Silva headed a consolation near the end before home supporters let the depth of their anger be known.

The sides exchanged half-chances during the opening 15 minutes, Cunha and Pedro Neto drawing decent saves from Djordje Petrovic in Chelsea’s goal, whilst at the other end Palmer saw a left-footed shot deflect wide from outside the box and Christopher Nkunku was blocked by Jose Sa as he ran through on goal.

The game needed a spark of inspiration, and it came from Moises Caicedo. Chelsea’s record signing collected the ball centrally midway inside the Wolves half and with slid-rule precision found the run of Palmer. Caicedo’s pass did the hard part for him, and Chelsea’s top scorer placed it first-time into the corner with a cool flick of the boot.

It was a worthy assist, but the Ecuadorean undid his good work almost instantly. It was he who dallied on the ball in midfield, gifting it back to Wolves. From there, the visitors broke forward, working it up to Cunha who cut in onto his right and hit a shot that deflected off Silva and in as Petrovic scrambled to recover.

Chelsea laboured to impose themselves but O’Neil’s side had been the better team on the ball throughout the half, despite the hosts’ superior possession statistics. Wolves moved the ball with more intent, their attacking players making the more inventive runs. Chelsea by contrast, save for Caicedo’s moment of magic, were running into walls.

The pattern of the half was encapsulated by the goal that put Wolves in front. One ball from Nelson Semedo released Neto down the right, who carried it and crossed low. Chelsea were unfortunate to suffer another critical deflection as Rayan Ait Nouri’s shot bounced off Disasi and in, rounding off an efficient, clinical Wolves counter.

Chelsea supporters near the dugout were angry with their team’s slow pace and a perceived lack of fight, making their feelings known at half-time in a furious chorus of boos. But things were only to get worse.

Raheem Sterling dragged wide from Ben Chilwell’s clever cut-back at the start of the second half as Pochettino’s side sought a response. At the other end, frustrations spread from the crowd to the pitch as Caicedo gave away two free-kicks in as many minutes on the edge of his own box, the second earning him a booking.

Wolves’ third goal came from more crisp, incisive counter-attacking. Enzo Fernandez tried to cut out Semedo’s ball down the line but helped it only into the path of Neto, who ran it deep into the box and laid off for Cunha to batter it past Petkovic. Cue another rally of bitter discontent from home supporters.

Malo Gusto’s foul handed Cunha the chance to seal his hat-trick from the penalty spot, an opportunity he took with a neat finish into the corner.

Thiago Silva’s late headed consolation could not take the sheen off a stunning Wolves win.

Mauricio Pochettino admitted Chelsea lacked experience during Wednesday’s 4-1 hammering at Liverpool.

The Blues’ three-match winning run in the Premier League came to an abrupt end at Anfield, with Pochettino’s young side falling well short.

Despite the £1 billion-plus investment at Stamford Bridge since Todd Boehly’s Clearlake Capital consortium took over the club in 2022, Pochettino highlighted the difference in quality between Chelsea and Liverpool’s team.

“We need to improve as a team. During the game I think we showed a lack of experience as a team,” Pochettino told a press conference ahead of Chelsea’s match against Wolves at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

“We showed that we are capable of playing in a different way and to do the things we practice, but sometimes you prepare for the game and you need to arrive and show the right energy, the right attitude, be brave and to show personality and character. Football is that.

“It wasn’t a reality check. But it was the difference between a team who is solid and consistently play together in the last four or five years and a team who want to reach that same level.”

British transfer record signing Moises Caicedo, who joined from Brighton for £115million in August, was substituted in the second half when Chelsea were 3-0 down.

Pochettino refused to single out the 22-year-old’s performance, insisting the squad overall need to improve their levels.

He added: “I think collectively we all need to improve. It’s not just him or it’s not just him and Enzo (Fernandez). I think we all need to improve as a team.”

Christopher Nkunku came off the bench to score Chelsea’s goal at Anfield.

The France international has played four Premier League matches after he sustained a knee and hip injury earlier in the season.

And Pochettino, who was happy with the striker’s impact, wants to be careful in how he builds Nkunku’s fitness when reintroducing him into the starting XI.

“It’s good to see him. Forty-five minutes was enough for him and we need to assess if he can start the next game,” Pochettino said.

“We hope he can cope with the demand of the next game. I think he’s started to show that he’s an option. He had one chance and was able to score a great goal and able to show his quality.

“We need to take care of his situation and to build his confidence and fitness. We are happy in the way he’s helping the team but we need to be careful.”

Former England and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard retired as a player on this day in 2017 after a stellar 21-year career.

Lampard, then 38, widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s all-time greats, announced his decision on social media after spending the previous year at Major League Soccer side New York City.

He said: “After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer.

“Whilst I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad, at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life.

“I’m immensely proud of the trophies I’ve won, of representing my country over 100 times and of scoring more than 300 career goals.”

Lampard is the Premier League’s fourth-highest appearance maker (609) and sixth-highest goalscorer (177). He is also fifth on the all-time assists list with 102.

After starting his career at West Ham, Lampard spent 13 years at Chelsea and became part of his country’s ‘golden generation’ despite failing to win major honours with England.

The former midfielder is Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer (211) and only three players have made more than his 648 appearances for the club.

He added in his retirement statement: “The largest part of my heart belongs to Chelsea, a club which has given me so many great memories. I will never forget the opportunity they gave me and the success that we managed to achieve together.”

Lampard won 11 major trophies at Stamford Bridge – three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League in 2012.

He made his senior England debut in a friendly win against Belgium in 1999 and went on to win 106 caps in total, placing him eighth on the all-time appearances list, and scored 29 goals.

After moving into management, he took Derby to the Championship play-off final and Chelsea to an FA Cup final, losing both games.

He avoided relegation with Everton in 2022 but was sacked the following January with the club 19th in the Premier League, and won just one of 11 games after returning to Chelsea in a caretaker capacity.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says it is a credit to their academy players that his side have emerged unscathed from a difficult January to lead the Premier League by five points.

The 4-1 victory over Chelsea was the Reds’ sixth win in seven matches in the month, with the other a draw in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final at Fulham having gone into the game with a lead from the home tie.

During that period the side have been without three senior full-backs, as well as the likes of midfielders Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister at varying times and, of course, Mohamed Salah.

Deputy right-back Conor Bradley has impressed hugely and put in his second successive man-of-the-match display with his first Liverpool goal and two assists in the victory.

But with Trent Alexander-Arnold close to full match fitness after two substitute appearances, it has given Klopp a decision to make ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal.

“There is no situation. It is just how it is,” said Klopp.

“We had seven games in January with 11 days off in between. We couldn’t have put the string of results together without the kids, (Jarell) Quansah, Conor and we had midfielders out so we played with James McConnell at six.

“These boys used this situation. I am happy they all could perform the way they did. The academy is doing an incredible job.”

Striker Darwin Nunez had one of those games where he did everything but score, becoming the first player since Opta records began in 2003 to hit the woodwork four times, once from the penalty spot.

It was at the extreme end of what has become a frequent trademark from the Uruguay international, who set up the fourth goal for Luis Diaz, but Klopp is not concerned.

“Insane first half, unbelievable. Outstanding. Why do we speak about Darwin? Obviously because he has so many situations where he missed,” he added.

“The first time since we count a player hits the woodwork four times in a game. Think you are in his boots and how that feels. Missing a penalty you could see at half-time he was really upset with himself.

“It’s just crazy that he creates that many. Imagine for a second he would take them all. The numbers would be absolutely insane, to an extent where we wouldn’t understand it any more so it’s normal.

“For us, it’s unimportant. We scored four goals, who cares if we could have scored a fifth or sixth?”

It would not have flattered Liverpool to have added two or three more such was their dominance over opponents who they will meet again in the Carabao Cup final in a month’s time.

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino admitted his side were second best and even penalty shouts in the first and second halves would not have done much to alter the direction of travel.

“I think it is not to find excuses. The performance was not good enough from us. They deserved to win, they were better than us,” he said.

“We didn’t perform in the way we wanted to. In this type of game you need to say ‘well done Liverpool’.

“In the final (next month) we need to compete in a different way. If we compete the same way as today for sure it is going to be the same result.

“For us it is about learning. We are competing against a team that is on the top and is consistent to always be challenging for the big trophies.”

Youngster Conor Bradley registered his first Liverpool goal and two assists as the Premier League leaders thumped Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield to go five points clear at the top.

The 20-year-old right-back fired into the bottom corner in the 39th minute to double the Reds’ lead having earlier provided the pass that led to Diogo Jota’s opener midway through the first half.

After Darwin Nunez sent a penalty against the post in first-half stoppage-time – one of four times he hit the woodwork – the advantage was extended in the 65th minute when Dominik Szoboszlai headed in from Bradley’s cross.

Christopher Nkunku replied before Luis Diaz wrapped things up for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they made it 15 league matches unbeaten, and four successive wins, in their first top-flight outing since the German’s announcement that he is to step down as boss at the end of the season.

A miserable evening for Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea ended a three-match winning run as they stayed 10th.

Manchester City, who have played a game fewer than Liverpool, returned to second place with their fourth league victory on the bounce, beating struggling Burnley 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Julian Alvarez netted twice on his 24th birthday and Rodri also got on the scoresheet before top-scorer Erling Haaland make his comeback from injury as a 71st-minute substitute.

Ameen Al-Dakhil netted a stoppage-time consolation for second-bottom Burnley, managed by ex-City captain Vincent Kompany, as Pep Guardiola’s treble-winners went above Arsenal on goal difference.

Tottenham moved into the top four after a flurry of goals early in the second half helped them come from behind to beat Brentford 3-2 at home.

Neal Maupay’s effort for the Bees on the quarter-hour mark was cancelled out three minutes into the second half by Destiny Udogie.

Brennan Johnson then put Spurs ahead a minute later, with Richarlison adding a further goal for the hosts seven minutes on from that.

Ivan Toney subsequently reduced the deficit in the 67th minute but Ange Postecoglou’s team emerged with the three points to leapfrog Aston Villa in the table.

Premier League leaders Liverpool restored their five-point advantage with a 4-1 win over Chelsea on a memorable night for youngster Conor Bradley and a typically frustrating one for Darwin Nunez.

With Manchester City beating Burnley and Arsenal winning on Tuesday, victory in the first of their major double-header – a trip to the Emirates is up next – was imperative but Jurgen Klopp’s side could not have expected to have had such a comfortable time.

Goals from Diogo Jota, Bradley – his first for the club – and Dominik Szoboszlai put the game beyond a woeful Chelsea inside 65 minutes but it could have been a rout as Nunez hit the woodwork an incredible four times – once from the penalty spot.

Thankfully for Liverpool his input was not needed as there was another star performer in the form of academy graduate Bradley, deputising for Trent Alexander-Arnold who was on the bench as he continued to make his comeback from injury, on only his second league start.

Bradley, man of the match against Norwich on Sunday, has been directly involved in six goals in his last four appearances and he deservedly departed to a standing ovation when Alexander-Arnold eventually took over.

Premier League clubs have largely kept their powder dry in this transfer window but could there be a flurry of activity on deadline day?

Here the PA news agency takes a look at what could go through before the top-flight window in England closes at 11pm on February 1.

Could Rashford make a shock move?

England forward Marcus Rashford is under the microscope again following his alleged hijinks in Belfast last week, which led to internal disciplinary measures being taken by Manchester United.

While United say they have drawn a line under the matter, Rashford is not as settled under Erik ten Hag as he might once have been.

Any departure from Old Trafford in the next day or so would still be regarded as a major surprise but Paris St Germain are reportedly keeping tabs on United’s homegrown 26-year-old.

Chelsea offloading before buying?

Conor Gallagher has been an integral part of Mauricio Pochettino’s side this season but with just 18 months left on his contract and no sign of an extension, the England midfielder has been linked with a switch to Tottenham.

Fulham and Wolves are said to be tracking another of Chelsea’s academy products in Armando Broja.

But lightening the books could allow the Blues to follow up reported interest in Aston Villa’s Jhon Duran and Newcastle forward Callum Wilson as well as Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies.

Newcastle keeping busy

Newcastle were expected to be one of the biggest movers but they are having to juggle the restrictions imposed by profit and sustainability and financial fair play rules with a desire to strengthen.

Indeed, boss Eddie Howe said this week it was “impossible” to add to their squad without selling first.

Kieran Trippier, Miguel Almiron and Bruno Guimaraes have all been linked with moves abroad but Newcastle have managed to resist any overtures thus far and will hope there are no major departures on Thursday.

Blades want cutting edge defender

Rock-bottom Sheffield United have brought in Chile striker Ben Brereton Diaz and former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Ivo Grbic this month but manager Chris Wilder wants someone experienced to bolster his backline.

The Blades have shipped 54 goals in 22 matches – by far the worst record in the league – and Wilder says the club is working “frantically” to get something over the line before the window shuts.

Hammers go for Jota

With Said Benrahma reportedly close to sealing a move to Ligue 1 club Lyon, West Ham could target former Celtic winger Jota to shore up the wing.

The Portuguese only swapped the Hoops for the Saudi Pro League last summer but has been heavily linked with a return to the UK.

However, David Moyes’ side could meet resistance from Al-Ittihad given Jota has been in Saudi Arabia for just six months.

Chelsea’s potential outgoings could dominate transfer deadline day with speculation over Conor Gallagher and Armando Broja’s futures at the club yet to subside.

West London rivals Fulham have been linked to Broja over the last few days of the January window, while England midfielder Gallagher has been linked with a move to Tottenham throughout the month.

Spurs have been one of the busier clubs in a seemingly quieter January transfer window so far, with Radu Dragusin and Timo Werner arriving in north London, but head coach Ange Postecoglou suggested on Tuesday it would be “unlikely” to see any more signings

Financial services firm Deloitte suggested that clubs’ desire to avoid tough sanctions for financial rule breaches could be a factor in a general drop in Premier League transfer spending this month, but did not rule out a “late flurry” of activity before the 11pm deadline on Thursday.

Aston Villa have been active in the final stages of the window, with winger Morgan Rogers expected to join from Middlesbrough in a deal worth £16million.

Forward Jhon Duran has been linked with Chelsea, while Unai Emery is also keen to keep hold of Jacob Ramsey, who has been linked with Tottenham and Bayern Munich.

Speaking about the midfielder at a press conference on Monday, Emery said: “Jacob Ramsey is a very important player. He grew up in the academy and his progression is getting better.

“His level is increasing a lot and I want to keep him here with us. Of course, there are movements (speculation) around him.

“Maybe there are teams involved in the possibility to sign him because he has a big, big potential at Villa and in England. I want to keep him here, 100 per cent.”

Newcastle were another club linked with Ramsey, but Eddie Howe insisted on Monday that the Magpies had made no approach for the 22-year-old.

Howe added he is determined to keep his squad “intact” amid speculation over the futures of Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron throughout the window.

After securing Kalvin Phillips on loan, Portuguese winger Jota is reportedly a target for West Ham to replace Algeria winger Said Benrahma, who is likely to leave before deadline day.

Pablo Fornals could be another player to leave the Hammers and he is reportedly close to sealing a move to Real Betis.

Brighton have been linked with a move for Leicester midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, but Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi remains tight-lipped about the speculation.

“I don’t know anything about him (personally); I know him as a player,” he said.

“He has great quality but it’s not my business speaking about other players, especially because (Foxes boss) Enzo Maresca is my friend and I want to be correct with him.”

There could be activity towards the bottom end of the Premier League table as Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admitted the club will be working “frantically” to improve their squad before Thursday, while Nottingham Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo is also hoping to bring in reinforcements.

Chelsea’s potential outgoings could dominate transfer deadline day with speculation over Conor Gallagher and Armando Broja’s futures at the club yet to subside.

West London rivals Fulham have been linked to Broja over the last few days of the January window, while England midfielder Gallagher has been linked with a move to Tottenham throughout the month.

Spurs have been one of the busier clubs in a seemingly quieter January transfer window so far, with Radu Dragusin and Timo Werner arriving in north London, but head coach Ange Postecoglou suggested on Tuesday it would be “unlikely” to see any more signings

Financial services firm Deloitte suggested that clubs’ desire to avoid tough sanctions for financial rule breaches could be a factor in a general drop in Premier League transfer spending this month, but did not rule out a “late flurry” of activity before the 11pm deadline on Thursday.

Aston Villa have been active in the final stages of the window, with winger Morgan Rogers expected to join from Middlesbrough in a deal worth £16million.

Forward Jhon Duran has been linked with Chelsea, while Unai Emery is also keen to keep hold of Jacob Ramsey, who has been linked with Tottenham and Bayern Munich.

Speaking about the midfielder at a press conference on Monday, Emery said: “Jacob Ramsey is a very important player. He grew up in the academy and his progression is getting better.

“His level is increasing a lot and I want to keep him here with us. Of course, there are movements (speculation) around him.

“Maybe there are teams involved in the possibility to sign him because he has a big, big potential at Villa and in England. I want to keep him here, 100 per cent.”

Newcastle were another club linked with Ramsey, but Eddie Howe insisted on Monday that the Magpies had made no approach for the 22-year-old.

Howe added he is determined to keep his squad “intact” amid speculation over the futures of Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron throughout the window.

After securing Kalvin Phillips on loan, Portuguese winger Jota is reportedly a target for West Ham to replace Algeria winger Said Benrahma, who is likely to leave before deadline day.

Pablo Fornals could be another player to leave the Hammers and he is reportedly close to sealing a move to Real Betis.

Brighton have been linked with a move for Leicester midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, but Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi remains tight-lipped about the speculation.

“I don’t know anything about him (personally); I know him as a player,” he said.

“He has great quality but it’s not my business speaking about other players, especially because (Foxes boss) Enzo Maresca is my friend and I want to be correct with him.”

There could be activity towards the bottom end of the Premier League table as Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admitted the club will be working “frantically” to improve their squad before Thursday, while Nottingham Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo is also hoping to bring in reinforcements.

A much-changed Chelsea side eased to victory at Paris FC to end their Women’s Champions League group stage undefeated.

First-half headers from Fran Kirby and Mia Fishel before late efforts from Guro Reiten and Maren Mjelde secured a comfortable 4-0 victory in the French capital for the Blues.

Emma Hayes’ side had already guaranteed themselves a quarter-final spot and she took the opportunity to shuffle her pack.

After an even opening, it was England international Kirby who broke the deadlock with the visitors’ first clear opportunity.

Jelena Cankovic crossed to the back post where Kirby arrived unmarked to head home for her first Champions League goal of the campaign.

The hosts, making their group-stage debut – having knocked Arsenal out earlier in the tournament – responded well as Chelsea goalkeeper Zecira Musovic was forced into a smart save, courtesy of an acute Mathilde Bourdieu.

Paris, though, had not learnt their lesson from Kirby’s opener and were caught out in startlingly-similar fashion later in the half as Cankovic this time crossed for Fishel to head home.

With the hosts needing victory to keep alive their hopes of reaching the last eight, Julie Dufour missed a sitter after the restart, leaning back and firing over the crossbar from close range.

A number of defensive mix-ups allowed Chelsea to wrap up the win as Reiten was the beneficiary, tapping home after miscommunication on the edge of the Paris box.

There was more questionable defending as Mjelde flicked home a corner with goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie poorly positioned.

Chelsea were good value for their win and will be seeded for the quarter-final draw on February 6 – avoiding some of Europe’s big-hitters.

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino insists everyone at the club remains relaxed heading into the final 48 hours of the January transfer window.

The Blues have been linked with a move for Aston Villa frontman Jhon Duran and Newcastle foward Callum Wilson as well as Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies.

England midfielder Conor Gallagher is a reported target for Tottenham to leave Stamford Bridge, while Fulham and Wolves are said to be tracking Armando Broja.

Pochettino, though, maintains his squad is fully focused on just one target – getting a result at Liverpool on Wednesday night.

“I am excited for the for the game tomorrow. It is a great opportunity for us to face a team that is doing really well,” Pochettino said.

“For Thursday (transfer deadline day), I think it is not going to happen many things. I think we are quiet and the market is quiet.”

Pochettino told a press conference: “At the moment, all is quiet, calm and relaxed.

“I was talking with the players, the whole squad, with meetings today. At the moment, we are all relaxed about the whole situation of the squad.

“There is always speculation and we need to live with that, (but) at the moment, (there is) nothing to communicate and nothing (has) happened.”

Christopher Nkunku and Malo Gusto are back in full training, so should travel to Anfield, but defender Levi Colwill is set for a spell out with a minor muscle issue.

Striker Nico Jackson will return to Chelsea following Senegal’s exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, but might not be rushed back into club action.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp could record his 200th Premier League victory on Wednesday night.

With the German having announced his shock decision to leave the club at the end of the season, Anfield is again set to see an outpouring of emotion from the home supporters.

Pochettino, though, has every intention of spoiling the party.

“It is a special game for him. I think until the end (of the season), it is going to be special always (in each match),” the Chelsea boss said.

“Every time that they are going to play in Anfield is going to be a party, to celebrate and to give him all the love that the fans feel for him and I think (that is) well deserved.

“But we are thinking to go there and to win the game – sorry, but we don’t want to be involved in part of the celebration.

“We want to be thinking about us, to perform well and to win the game.”

Klopp admitted “running out of energy” was one of the reasons behind his decision to take a break, which Barcelona manager Xavi also spoke of when announcing his own departure on Saturday evening.

“Football never stress you, I think it is all the environment,” said Pochettino, who also had spells at Espanyol, Southampton, Tottenham and Paris St Germain.

“When I am involved in a training session, when we are in the game or even in with you (the media), I think this recharges the energy.

“But at the moment there are different things that are involved also, new things that appear on (top of) football in this business. I think that maybe affects a lot (of) the drain (of) the energy.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged everyone to stay calm when it comes to the handling the futures of some of their biggest stars.

Virgil van Dijk, who along with Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold has 18 months left on his contract, has said he was curious to see where the club was heading with Klopp’s departure pending and admitted he did not know whether he would be part of a new era at Anfield.

That has sparked concerns a period of inertia – Liverpool currently do not have a sporting director in place after Jorg Schmadtke’s short-term appointment was ended – until the identity of the new manager is known could lead to the break up of a squad which Klopp believes has been rebuilt sufficiently to continue challenging after he has gone.

Asked whether there was a danger the squad could break up Klopp said: “No, I don’t think so but it is completely normal.

“It was always clear, when I spoke about what I spoke about, the outside world will not give you a second to process it, to think about it. It is ‘what are you doing?’.

“A week ago when no one knew about my decision and there were 18 months on the contracts, nobody asked. So give us a break, give the boys a break.

“Nobody has to worry. This club is stable, 100 per cent, and everything will be fine, I am 100 per cent sure, and the rest we have to get through. I would recommend to stay calm in this department, massively.”

Klopp argued it would have been unfair and disrespectful to players who have played a major part in their success together to tie them down to new contracts when they had no idea he would not be manager next season.

The German informed owners Fenway Sports Group of his decision in November but the players were not told until Friday. However, Klopp said there is plenty of time to sort their futures.

“The club knew about my departure for a while and could have used the time and tied the players down and then I say ‘by the way, I’m not here anymore’, and they they ‘hey, what? No one told us that’,” he added.

“You cannot work like that, especially not with the relationship we have. There is enough time to do everything.

“These players love to be here, I know that for a fact, don’t forget that. It is not that they have one foot out. They want to know a little bit of perspective but that will happen, especially behind the scenes.

“Don’t worry. It is all fine.”

Player contracts is just the first issue to arise since Klopp’s announcement and it shows the desire for there not to be any distractions is misguided.

It comes in a huge week for the Premier League leaders, who host Chelsea on Wednesday before travelling to Arsenal at the weekend.

After a month when he was without a number of players the direction of travel in that respect has changed with Alexis Mac Allister rejoining the squad after missing the weekend as a precaution.

Even fellow midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who has not played since April because of a hip injury, has returned to training but the wait for Mohamed Salah’s recovery from a hamstring injury sustained on African Nations Cup duty with Egypt goes on even though his country have now been eliminated.

“There was no pressure in it besides the fact that you want to get fit as quick as possible anyway. We cannot rush it,” he said.

“If we could rush the healing process believe me Thiago would not have been out for 10 months. It is not possible.”

What the papers say

Conor Gallagher could make a move across London as the end of the January transfer window looms. According to The Times, Tottenham are weighing up a potential bid for Chelsea’s England midfielder, 23.

Manchester United winger Facundo Pellistri, 22, could be heading for a spell away from Old Trafford. Spanish club Granada have revived plans for a loan move for the Uruguay international, reports the Manchester Evening News.

West Ham have turned their attention to Portuguese winger Jota, 24, from Al-Ittihad, according to the Evening Standard. Hammers talks with FC Nordsjaelland over Ghanaian forward Ibrahim Osman, 19, have stalled.

Leeds have made an offer to Everton for Ben Godfrey, reports The Sun. The Championship club are looking to take the England international defender, 26, on loan.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jacob Ramsey: Newcastle, Tottenham and Bayern Munich are interested in the 22-year-old midfielder, with Aston Villa considering a sale to comply with financial regulations, reports The Athletic.

Chuba Akpom: Everton and Luton are keen on signing the English forward, 28, on loan from Ajax, says Teamtalk.

Mauricio Pochettino praised Emiliano Martinez after the Aston Villa goalkeeper produced a string of saves to deny his Chelsea side in their goalless FA Cup fourth-round meeting at Stamford Bridge.

Villa are five places and 12 points ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League table but there was little to separate them here, although the hosts will reflect on chances missed in the first half by Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer as a shot at settling the tie slipped away.

Martinez was the decisive actor on both occasions, spreading himself well and blocking in one-on-one situations.

John McGinn had Villa’s best opportunities, first when his clipped effort sailed inches over the bar on the stroke of half-time, then again when he stole in at the near post to meet Nicolo Zaniolo’s cross late on but guided it wide under pressure from Thiago Silva.

It is now three consecutive home games against Villa in which Chelsea have failed to score, as they struggled to capitalise on the momentum of Tuesday’s 6-1 Carabao Cup win over Middlesbrough that set up a final showdown against Liverpool at Wembley next month.

“This type of games are very even,” said Pochettino. “When you face a team like Aston Villa, always it’s difficult. We didn’t score but we created chances. I trust and believe in my players playing this way, we are going to score.

“We came from Tuesday, we scored six so today should be good. But their keeper is an amazing keeper, he’s really good. Sometimes you need some luck to score.”

Chelsea lost defender Levi Colwill to injury during the warm-up, with 20-year-old academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist drafted into the starting XI.

Pochettino confirmed Colwill’s injury is not serious and emphasised his belief in Gilchrist as a capable stand-in.

“It’s not so bad, it’s some small issue that maybe he didn’t feel comfortable,” he said. “We knew before we might not start with him. We hope he will train tomorrow.

“The most difficult thing (for young players) is to manage the stress. (Gilchrist) thought he wasn’t going to play. Sometimes with the young guys, you give the starting XI and they think too much, maybe they can’t sleep. The stress can affect them. But he got half an hour (to prepare), no time to think too much.

“The young players need time to be calm and relaxed, not to spend too much energy thinking on the game. But he was really good. He’s going to grow and be more mature in future.

“He’s showing, and we are giving the opportunity for him to build his career. It’s important for all of the academy players have ability to show they can cope with the pressure of playing for Chelsea. We’ll see if he can reach the level we expect.”

Villa boss Unai Emery reflected on a game in which side impressed with their competitive approach despite the stalemate.

“I have to accept this draw and that we will now play at home and be motivated with our supporters,” he said.

“We are going to be at Villa Park trying to enjoy this, because we showed tonight that we are competitive and we can be contenders as well for this competition.”

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