Jurgen Klopp expects Thiago Alcantara to be in contention to face Inter after the Liverpool midfielder was forced to miss the EFL Cup final due to a hamstring injury.

The Spain international was in tears after dropping out of the starting line-up against Chelsea at Wembley.

Liverpool went on to win 11-10 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was brought on for the shoot-out, missing the decisive spot-kick.

Thiago will miss Wednesday's FA Cup clash with Norwich City at Anfield and will likely sit out the Premier League game with West Ham on Saturday, but Klopp hopes he will be available for the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Inter, in which Liverpool hold a 2-0 lead after the first leg.

"He's not crying any more," the Reds manager told reporters on Tuesday. "This was a very emotional moment.

"We were all surprised. I watched the whole warm-up, didn't see anything, and I came in the dressing room and he's on the bed, telling me he feels something in his hamstring, which is not good obviously.

"We had to make the decision that he could not start at this moment, when you are that close to playing a final.

"For the one player who won probably the most silverware in the whole squad, or as much as the whole squad together, to show this emotion... I didn't like that he didn't feel that good, but the desire to play the final I liked a lot.

"He's fine again but not fit again. For the weekend, I'm not sure; maybe Milan. After that, definitely."

Thiago has made 20 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions this season.

Jurgen Klopp is not thinking about a historic quadruple this season as he says Liverpool are "close to nothing" after winning the EFL Cup.

Liverpool beat Chelsea 11-10 on penalties at Wembley on Sunday after a gripping goalless draw –  the standard of which Klopp described as "insane".

The Reds' attention quickly turns to the FA Cup and a fifth-round tie against Norwich City on Wednesday.

And Klopp will not look further ahead than that match, despite his side now being candidates for an unprecedented English quadruple.

With one trophy secured and the other domestic cup entering its final stages, Liverpool are also six points behind Manchester City in the Premier League with a game in hand and a trip to the Etihad Stadium to come, as well as leading Inter 2-0 after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter.

"The quadruple? It's a wonderful story," Klopp told a pre-match news conference. "No team yet in the history of English football ever won the quadruple, right? That's because it's really difficult.

"We won the Carabao Cup, we are behind City in the Premier League, we play Norwich tomorrow night after playing 120 minutes on Sunday, and we play West Ham.

"The fun part of [the media's] job is you count the points before we play the games, but we still have to play them.

"It's not that we are even close to think about any crazy stuff like that. We just want to try to make sure the boys are fit enough to face Norwich in a proper way."

Pressed further on others backing Liverpool for a potential quadruple, Klopp said: "That people see us as having a chance, you could see it as a compliment, but I don't need these kinds of compliments.

"It doesn't feel like that. We don't think, 'oh, we are close to winning the quadruple'. We are close to nothing at the moment.

"We are still involved in now three competitions, that's all we are – like some other teams as well.

"It's better that people think we can do good things than people think we are useless, but it's not very important or even helpful, because we face a lot of really good football teams between now and the end of May."

Manchester United won a treble in 1998-99 but exited the EFL Cup to eventual winners Tottenham in the quarter-finals.

City finished the 2018-19 season with three trophies, too, but similarly saw a quadruple bid ended by Spurs, this time in the last eight of the Champions League – which Liverpool won.

"I'm not sure how you get to that story," Klopp said. "Okay, the only team that could win the quadruple is us, because we won the first competition – that's easy.

"But even City, with all the quality they have, in the last few years couldn't win the quadruple. That says pretty much everything."

Antonio Conte insists his outburst following Tottenham's recent loss to Burnley was "strategic" rather than emotional as he reiterated his commitment to the Premier League side.

The 52-year-old appeared to question his own future after last week's 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor when stating he was "not good enough" to fix Spurs' problems.

Conte, who signed an 18-month contract with Tottenham in November, later took aim at his squad on the back of a fourth defeat in five league matches.

That led to reports that the Italian could be heading for an early exit from Spurs, but he backtracked on those comments ahead of Saturday's 4-0 win at Leeds United.

Conte has now further explained his remarks, admitting there is a specific intention behind what he says in news conferences.

"I think that you have to understand when there is a strategy or not and not only an emotional moment," he said.

"It is not right to stay here and explain why I talk in a way and after three days I spoke in another way. 

"Maybe I can explain to you, every time we have a press conference there is a strategy behind it, not an emotional moment.

"I understood that was the right moment, after four defeats in five games and winning the game against Manchester City three days ago, to send the right message, a clear message to myself, the club and also the players.

"We have to know we are here to enjoy football, at the same time to improve ourselves, to ask to ourselves for 100 per cent commitment and desire and also to underline that a team like Tottenham does not exist to lose four games in five.

"If someone understood that my words were from an emotional moment, no. In that moment I sent a specific message to the whole environment and it has happened in the past, when I want to push the situation and the environment in the same direction, because I am seeing we can do better, it is not because it is an emotional moment, it is because there is a strategy behind it.

"Maybe I can explain to you, every time we have a press conference there is a strategy behind it, not an emotional moment."

Tottenham moved back up to seventh with their morale-boosting victory at Elland Road, five points off fourth-placed Manchester United with two games in hand.

Spurs switch focus to the FA Cup on Tuesday with a fifth-round tie away at second-tier side Middlesbrough, who eliminated United on penalties in the previous round.

The north London side have not reached the quarter-finals of the competition since 2017-18 and have not won any silverware since lifting the EFL Cup in 2008.

Conte has made clear that he intends to win at least one trophy during his time with Spurs, but he accepts he has a big task on his hands with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool still involved.

"For sure it's a big challenge for me, for my players because maybe you start this tournament as underdog," said Conte, who has lost only one of his 11 domestic cup matches against sides from a lower division (W8 D2).

"But at the same time you know when you arrive to play this game and you know that there are only four games to reach the final and you start to feel the possibility to see the target, to see the goal close to you and then for this reason we have to try to push ourselves to go ahead in this competition and to try to create problems for the team that usually at this moment they are favourites to win this trophy."

Including replays, Tottenham have never lost to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup (W4 D2), though those two draws have come as the away side in February 1905 and January 2020.

Jack Grealish needs to stop concerning himself with statistics and public opinion and focus purely on his contribution to Manchester City, says Pep Guardiola.

City forked out a reported £100million fee to land attacking midfielder Grealish from Aston Villa in August.

Grealish has managed three goals and three assists from 25 games across all competitions, numbers the England international himself recently suggested do not back up his own personal feeling that Guardiola has improved him as a footballer.

But the City boss says Grealish should take a step back from being too enamoured by the statistics alone.

"Maybe he's wrong. Maybe he listens too much to what people say. It's wrong but the statistics are better and he plays quite similar to Aston Villa in terms of ball contact," Guardiola said.

"He had the chances against Crystal Palace in 20 minutes to score three goals. It didn't happen but it's going to happen. 

"We didn't buy him to score 45 goals. He doesn't have that quality he has another one."

Grealish has missed the past three weeks with a shin problem but is in contention to face Peterborough United in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday.

Guardiola is of the opinion that Grealish is not alone in focusing too much on the hard numbers.

"Always we talk about the statistics – the players today play for the statistics but this is the biggest mistake they can do," he added.

"We're involved in that. Statistics are just a bit of information that we have but there are players that make the team play good and they are not into statistics. But the players say how many goals I score or how many assists or...

"With these kinds of situation, they forget everything. Statistics never existed before. It's how you play today if you perform to your maximum, to your best, help your team-mates to make the process defensively and offensively better – it's enough. Thanks to that we are going to win.

"Everyone has agents and managers and everything and say what they have to do better and they listen to a lot of things about what they have to do. 

"He's playing good. I would tell him – I wouldn't tell you – if he's not playing good, but that's not the case."

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte claimed winning trophies in Europe is easier than succeeding in England ahead of an FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough.

Spurs sit seventh in the Premier League after a 4-0 demolition of Leeds United, five points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, who have played a game more.

Conte's side are still in contention for the FA Cup as well, in which they face Chris Wilder's Middlesbrough on Tuesday, while the north London club were knocked out in the EFL Cup semi-final by Chelsea, who lost the final to Liverpool on Sunday.

Conte insisted it will be a difficult challenge to lift a domestic trophy at the end of the season, given the quality of competition in England.

"To win trophies in England, as I said before, is very difficult," he told reporters at Monday's pre-match news conference. "At the moment it's easier to win in Europe than England. 

"When you start to play the quarter-final, semi-final, final, you have to fight against a top, top team that probably could play the final of the Champions League. It's important to continue to go through in this trophy.

"This happened in the EFL Cup, don't underestimate the semi-final Tottenham reached, because the final was Chelsea versus Liverpool, so to reach the semi-final was a good result for Tottenham. 

"This has to be a boost to push us to improve the level, to be competitive, to try to meet a trophy as soon as possible, because if I speak about the future, you don't understand the time that we need.

"It'll be important to improve the level and fight to win a trophy. But I repeat, to win a trophy now is very difficult."

Conte reached successive FA Cup finals during his two-season stint at Chelsea, overcoming Manchester United in the latter in 2018.

The Italian is hoping to reach Wembley Stadium for a third time this campaign, but implored his side to show greater consistency if they are to end the club's wait for silverware.

"I'm not desperate but you know very well I want to win," he added.

"But I'm not desperate or it would be very hard to continue. For sure it's a great competition and previously I was lucky to reach the [FA Cup] final two years in a row. 

"I'd like to continue this tradition for Tottenham, especially for my players, especially the fans and the club, not only for me.

"But you know this trophy is not simple or easy, and tomorrow we have to face Middlesbrough, a tough game. Middlesbrough eliminated Manchester United from this competition. 

"I want to see continuity in the performance and result of my players. We need continuity to show that in defeat we are learning something more.

"Also I want to celebrate the game between Chelsea and Liverpool yesterday, it was a great, exciting game to watch. 

"This also underlines how difficult it is to win trophies in this country. It was amazing for me and all the people in other countries to watch this game. 

"Great congratulations from me to Chelsea and Liverpool, the players, the coach, for the fans, for the total environment it was a fantastic advert for football. I think that England has to be proud about this."

Pep Guardiola admitted Everton should have had a penalty for handball against Rodri in Manchester City's win at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Phil Foden struck eight minutes from time to seal a 1-0 victory for the leaders that moved them six points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Everton were denied the chance for a late equaliser from the penalty spot when neither referee Paul Tierney nor VAR felt Rodri should be punished for the ball striking his arm in the City box.

After the match, Guardiola felt the decision likely went in his side's favour due to offside in the build-up, but the Premier League clarified that the penalty was not awarded simply because there was insufficient evidence to show the ball struck Rodri below the level of his armpit, which is used as a cut-off point for handball.

Everton reportedly lodged a complaint with the league over recent refereeing decisions after boss Frank Lampard was left furious following the City defeat.

While Guardiola dismissed the idea that the decision could have lasting consequences for the season, he accepted Everton were unfortunate.

Speaking ahead of City's FA Cup clash with Championship side Peterborough United, Guardiola said: "Can this episode affect a whole season? I will review a lot of incidents. It looks offside for Richarlison; if it's not offside, it's a penalty."

Guardiola's men meet Peterborough on Tuesday aiming to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the fifth time since he took over as manager in 2016.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen will miss out through injury, but Oleksandr Zinchenko is set to play after being an unused substitute against Everton.

Guardiola said it would be a good chance for the Ukraine international to "show the reason why he is here", adding he was a "magnificent player" who has remained committed amid the crisis in his homeland following Russia's invasion.

The City manager also paid tribute to Marcelo Bielsa, who left as Leeds United boss on Sunday following a dreadful run of results that culminated in a 4-0 home defeat to Tottenham.

"I'm so sorry for him," he said. "His legacy is there in the Leeds city, the club, the players. His influence is massive.

"Unfortunately, the manager goes by results and, lately, it was not good. The game he has played for three, four seasons in Leeds was spectacular to watch and of course, I wish him all the best.

"It will be a loss to Leeds and his players. As a person, he's not different to anyone. Results dictate our future."

Jurgen Klopp is heading towards becoming the "best Liverpool manager just for what he has achieved", according to former Reds striker Robbie Fowler.

The German boss added the EFL Cup to his growing list of trophies after Liverpool overcame Chelsea on Sunday in the highest scoring penalty shoot-out between two English top-flight teams.

That was Klopp's 10th crown of his managerial career, winning five with Dortmund and adding his fifth with Liverpool, who have triumphed in the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and EFL Cup during his tenure.

Victory over Thomas Tuchel's European and world champions also kept the Reds in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.

Liverpool sit six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, who have played a game more, face Norwich City in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and are 2-0 up at the halfway point of their Champions League last-16 tie with Inter.

Fowler, who scored 120 times for the Reds between 1993 and 2001, believes that Klopp will soon claim the title of Liverpool's greatest manager if he can add a few more trophies to his cabinet.

Asked whether Klopp is potentially the Reds' best ever boss, Fowler told Stats Perform: "Yes. It's hard to sort of sit here when you think of the great Liverpool managers of the past. 

"You're looking at Bill Shankly, who achieved so much for Liverpool. We're not even talking about Bob Paisley, who won the trophies that he won and was a great manager. 

"But I think Jurgen, potentially in a year or two if he gets a few more trophies, could conceivably be the best Liverpool manager we've seen just for what he has achieved. 

"Certainly, over the last four years he's been here, he’s got to two Champions League finals, a Europa League final and [won] a Premier League [title]. So, I think he's exceptional. 

"He's a manager I would have loved to play under because he ticks every box. I think we, as players, love managers who are technically or tactically very good.

"And we also love managers who are great man managers. And I think he ticks every box and is the epitome of an excellent and great manager."

It is not uncommon for second-choice goalkeepers to be given minutes in the early rounds of cup competitions, only for the number one to return when it comes down to the crunch.

Yet for Kepa Arrizabalaga, that will almost certainly not be the case.

Signed in 2018 from Athletic Bilbao for £71.6million (€80m), which is still a record fee for a goalkeeper, Kepa undoubtedly struggled in his first few seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, Kepa's form was so worrying that Chelsea, then managed by club great Frank Lampard, decided to sign Edouard Mendy from Rennes in 2020, just two years after shelling out that record-setting fee.

Yet since Thomas Tuchel came into the club, Kepa has been given a new lease of life.

While Mendy has solidified his place as the number one, Kepa has stepped up when called upon.

The nervous, shaky youngster has made way for a player who once again seems confident in his own ability and his right to play for the European champions.

With Mendy staying as the first choice in the Premier League and Champions League, for now, Kepa has nailed down a starting spot in the domestic cup competitions, and looks set to start against Liverpool in the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

Should he turn in another match-winning display, as he did in the UEFA Super Cup last year, then Tuchel may well have a decision to make on just who is his first choice after all.

What went wrong?

Kepa's move to Chelsea came in the same window that Liverpool had splashed out on Alisson, and there was plenty of expectation on both goalkeepers.

But while Alisson thrived under the pressure, going on to help Liverpool win the Champions League and then the Premier League a year later, Kepa crumbled.

The Spaniard also made headlines when he refused to be subbed off before a penalty shoot-out in, ironically, the EFL Cup final. Maurizio Sarri's side lost to Manchester City.

Across 36 league appearances that season, Kepa conceded 39 goals. Eight of these came from shots outside the box, with only five goalkeepers conceding more long-range efforts. His overall save percentage was 67.77, ranking him 15th in the competition.

Another way to assess the quality of Kepa's shot-stopping is by using the expected goals on target (xGOT) model to calculate the number of goals Kepa actually prevented. xGOT measures not just the quality of a chance (xG) but the quality of the attempt itself.

Kepa's Premier League xGOT figure for 2018-19 was 37.1. Minus the 39 goals he conceded, Kepa essentially allowed in just over two more goals than the numbers would suggest (-1.9).

In comparison, Alisson finished the season having prevented 5.5 goals in the league through the quality of his saves, while West Ham's Lukasz Fabianski, for example, had an outstanding figure of 12.9. 

Yet it was in 2019-20 that Kepa's form truly dropped off. He conceded 47 times from 33 league appearances, with only seven goalkeepers allowing more goals. His save percentage of 53.47 was the poorest in the league, out of shot-stoppers to play at least 10 times, while his goals prevented figure was -10.7 (including penalties, but excluding own goals).

 

Chelsea claimed a top-four place and reached the FA Cup final, yet it was Willy Caballero, not Kepa, who helped them get to a Wembley showdown and, at the start of 2020-21, they drafted in Mendy from Rennes.

Turning point

Things hardly improved for Kepa at the start of 2020-21. Across the Premier League season, no goalkeeper made more errors leading to goals than the Spain international, who committed three such mistakes in just seven appearances.

All of those mistakes came in his first three league appearances of the season, and he did not feature again in the top flight under Lampard, next playing in February. He made four saves, including an impressive stop from Joe Willock late on, as Tuchel's team defeated Newcastle United 2-0.

That, perhaps, was the start of Kepa's resurgence. Chelsea again reached the final of the FA Cup, and again lost - this time to a Youri Tielemans stunner for Leicester City - but Kepa played in all six of those cup matches.

However, the true turning point came in August's Super Cup. Tuchel's side triumphed 6-5 on penalties over Europa League winners Villarreal following a 1-1 draw in Belfast, and Kepa was the hero.

In contrast to that 2019 EFL Cup final, Kepa was the goalkeeper brought on specifically for penalties this time, and he denied Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol to ensure victory.

Back at his best?

Perhaps Kepa will need to move on to be a first-choice goalkeeper once again. After all, at 27 he can no longer be counted as a youngster, and as it stands Mendy is still Tuchel's number one.

Though Kepa will get his chance in Sunday's EFL Cup final, surely, to help Chelsea claim a third trophy of the season, following the Super Cup and the Club World Cup, in which he featured in the semi-final.

Since that Super Cup success, Kepa has been a consistent performer. In his 13 games across all competitions, he has conceded just eight goals, keeping six clean sheets.

Those eight goals have come from an xGOT of 18.5, meaning Kepa's "goals prevented" figure is now way into the black, at 10.5.

 

In fact, that figure is the best of any goalkeeper in Europe's top five leagues in all competitions, proving just how much Kepa has come on over the course of the last year.

Mendy, in comparison, has stopped just over three goals with his saves, while Kepa also holds a better save percentage (83.7 to Mendy's 77.4), and he has established himself as worthy competition.

It may not be what Chelsea had in mind when they paid that world record fee in 2018, but if he helps them to another piece of silverware on Sunday, it would be hard to argue he is not starting to prove his worth.

Graham Potter is relishing the chance of going up against Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Brighton and Hove Albion boss believes the Manchester United star's troubles have been overblown.

Ronaldo has not scored or provided an assist since December 30, a run of six matches across all competitions.

The 37-year-old has created just six chances for team-mates across that run, while he has missed both of the big chances (defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be expected to score) that have come his way.

He has only registered an expected goals (xG) above 1.0 in one of those matches, against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup (1.6). Ronaldo missed a penalty in normal time before United crashed out in a shoot-out.

 

Indeed, he has only recorded an xG of over 0.5 on one other occasion across the last six games, suggesting the chances that are coming his way are not the best, or he is perhaps taking on shots that would be unlikely to result in a goal.

This is further reinforced by the fact Ronaldo has got just seven of his last 23 attempts on target.

Potter, however, does not buy the suggestion that Ronaldo is out of form.

"You run out of superlatives in terms of what he's achieved in his career and the player that he is," Potter, who is about to reach his 100th league game in charge of Brighton, told a news conference.

"He's had an absolutely amazing career, world-class, it's out-of-this-world class. There's nothing else to say with that.

"Too often we zoom into individuals and forget it's a team game. Sometimes when the team isn't scoring, the person at the front of the pitch gets the zooming in.

"From what I've seen, you still see the quality he has and the quality he brings to the group and the team.

"I've never played against him, we're looking forward to going there and pitting our wits against one of the best players of all time."

Ralf Rangnick has lamented United's profligate finishing at one end, and sloppy defending at the other.

He is right, though. United have been creating opportunities, mustering an xG of 23.3 since Rangnick's first game in charge on December 5, but they have scored just 17 times, giving them the third-largest xG-goals differential among all teams in Europe's top five leagues in that time (-6.3).

 

Potter is all too familiar with such a statistic, with Brighton having had an xG differential of -11.7 in the Premier League last season, having scored 40 goals from an xG of 51.7.

Brighton are still underperforming in that regard so far in 2021-22, but by only 3.8, netting 25 league goals from an xG of 28.8 so far.

However, his team have won 19 points away from home in the Premier League this season, with no side losing fewer on the road this term.

"Regardless of what the narrative around Manchester United is, you only have to look at the players that they have," Potter added.

"Going to Old Trafford in itself is a huge challenge because the crowd are so powerful there; the way they play, in a moment the game can completely change because they've got world-class players.

"The game is another test for us to see how our game has developed in as tough an away environment as you can get."

N'Golo Kante has insisted Chelsea "will go for every trophy" and is still hungry for success after winning the Club World Cup.

The Blues defeated Palmeiras 2-1 to win the competition for the first time in their history, having qualified after winning their second Champions League title last season.

Chelsea were fancied to push Manchester City and Liverpool all the way in the Premier League title race, though a top-flight charge now looks unlikely.

However, they have an EFL Cup final coming up against Liverpool at the end of February, while Thomas Tuchel's team remain in the FA Cup and the Champions League. They will face Luton Town and Lille respectively in the next rounds of those competitions.

With a first trophy of the season under Chelsea's belt, Kante – who also counts two Premier League titles and the World Cup among his honours – is eager for more.

"We know there are many more important games coming with the final of the Carabao Cup, we're still in the Champions League, we have to do well in the Premier League and the FA Cup is coming," Kante told reporters.

"So many great things are ahead of us. We hope we will enjoy many more nights like these. I don't know what we can achieve, but what we want is to get the best out of our team so we compete for everything. We will go for every trophy."

Kante also believes Chelsea proved how much the Club World Cup success meant to them by playing a strong team, despite the tournament being played mid-season.

"We took it very seriously," Kante continued. "For many of the players, we've never played this tournament, the club had never won it and to have the privilege to play it and win it is very special. It's a very nice feeling.

"It's the first time for the club and we're happy to be part of that, to have done it. Also, for us, it is the following of the success of the Champions League.

"This is special. It's a nice moment, we're all together and it's another trophy."

Despite the success this Chelsea squad has achieved over the past year, Callum Hudson-Odoi explained that, for young players like himself, there is still much to accomplish before he or his team-mates can be considered as club greats.

"I don't feel like a legend at all," Hudson-Odoi said. "At the end of the day I'm young, I've got a long way to go.

"I'm delighted to win trophies. When you win trophies it is a big feeling. You keep adding and adding to the cabinet and it's nice but you can't say you're a legend at 21.

"It is too, too early to say that. There is a lot more to come, hopefully. We keep pushing and keep going and at the end of the day we keep creating more history for the club and enjoy it while we can."

Antonio Conte insists he was never worried about Harry Kane's form despite the Tottenham striker enduring something of a slump in the first half of the season.

Kane looked a shadow of his usual self earlier in the campaign, scoring just one Premier League goal under Nuno Espirito Santo.

His performance certainly did not improve dramatically after Conte's arrival, as the England captain's next Premier League goal only arrived on December 19.

But since Christmas, Kane has netted six times in nine games across all competitions, including a brace in Saturday's 3-1 FA Cup defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion.

During Nuno's brief reign, it was felt Spurs were not getting enough out of Kane in any sense – he averaged just 0.24 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes in the Premier League, his worst record under any Spurs manager in a single season, while his touches of the ball dipped significantly to an average of 38.4 each game.

This showed he was not snuffing out many clear-cut opportunities and his general influence had waned, but under Conte he has seemingly recovered – he averages 0.56 xG each match, a record he has only bettered in 2017-18 (0.65) and 2013-14 (0.89, under Tim Sherwood), while he is touching the ball 46.3 times per game.

While he is still technically under-performing in relation to xG with 0.3 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes, he has improved as a goal threat. Not that Conte had any concerns, though.

 

"Honestly, I wasn't worried before in the past when he didn't score a lot, because his performance was always very, very high," Conte told reporters. "He played very well in every game for the team, he worked a lot for the team and is a fantastic player for me.

"He's not selfish but now that he's scoring I'm happy for him and the team, because if he scores we have more probability to get three points or go to the next round in a trophy competition.

"As I said to you before, in the past his performances were very, very, very positive for me, despite him not scoring a lot in the past. We're talking about a world-class striker. He's able to score in every game. We've also to try to help him to score."

Kane himself recently commented how he believes he is the fittest he has ever been.

Conte is renowned for being a demanding coach on the training ground, particularly when it comes to the physical aspects.

And it is focusing on this side of things, and building their setup around him, that Conte believes has improved Kane's overall sharpness

"Surely when you have a player like Harry, you have to try to involve him in your tactical idea of football," Conte continued. "He's an important player for us and he has to be a point of reference when we develop our football offensively.

"We're trying to work with him in many aspects. I think that every single player can improve until the end when he decides to stop his career.

"We're talking about a really good person who shows desire every day during training sessions. He's available with his teammates and is always ready to speak about football, to try to improve and also to see new tactical situations.

"I repeat, we're talking about a world-class striker and I'm trying to help him to become also better and better. Me, my staff on the physical aspect we are working – but not only with him, with all the team.

"To reduce our gap [in the Premier League], it's very important to improve every single player in many aspects. If this player is Kane, we're talking about a world-class striker, but it's the same for [Dane] Scarlett. We have to try to improve every single player, and in this way we can improve as a team and be more competitive than before."

Brendan Rodgers expressed his concern that "the rules of society have changed" after a Leicester City fan attacked Nottingham Forest players in Sunday's FA Cup match.

The holders were thrashed 4-1 by the Championship side at the City Ground as their disappointing season took another negative turn.

As Forest celebrated their third goal, scored by Joe Worrall, a man emerged from the section for away supporters and appeared to swing punches at the group of home players before stewards wrestled him away.

He was later arrested and will reportedly face a life ban from all Leicester games.

Rodgers said the incident was symptomatic of "people feeling entitled" to act as they please in wider society.

"The rules of society have changed. There's a total lack of respect," said the Leicester boss.

"It's not just in football, it's in life. I speak to many business people and people in the military, all across society. It's the lack of respect and people feeling entitled that they can do things.

"The rules of society need to change, and we see that lack of respect today. We've seen it for the last couple of years. Supporters breaking into stadiums, what is that about?

"You come, you support your team and win, lose or draw, you have respect. It's lacking in society and it spreads into other aspects of life.

"It's behaviour that you never want to see. Whatever goes on in the field, it has to be a safe environment for the players, and we must always retain the respect in football.

"Unfortunately the guy has come on to the pitch and was clearly, clearly disappointed by what he was watching."

The result meant Leicester became the first FA Cup holders to lose a match in the following season's competition by three or more goals since Liverpool against Luton Town in January 1987.

They have now conceded 58 goals in all competitions this season, at least 10 more than any other Premier League club.

Leicester City's FA Cup defence was ended in emphatic fashion in the fourth round by rivals Nottingham Forest.

Brendan Rodgers' Foxes won the cup last season for the first time in their history, with Youri Tielemans' stunning strike defeating Chelsea in the Wembley final.

But there will be no repeat in 2021-22 after a humbling encounter with second-tier Forest ended in a 4-1 defeat for the holders at the City Ground.

Leicester named a strong side yet left captain Kasper Schmeichel on the bench, and stand-in Danny Ward picked the ball out of his net three times before half-time.

A highly motivated Forest side led through Philip Zinckernagel after 23 minutes, before 20-year-old talisman Brennan Johnson made it 2-0 only 87 seconds later, squeezing a cute finish through Ward's legs.

Joe Worrall soon nodded a third, although Leicester were given a lifeline when Brice Samba advanced from his line and meekly pulled out of a challenge with Kelechi Iheanacho, giving the forward an open goal to aim into.

There was no dramatic second-half fightback, however, as Forest right-back Djed Spence charged through to net the fourth – the 58th goal Leicester have conceded in all competitions this season, 10 more than any other Premier League club.

Forest, who knocked out Arsenal in the third round, will host Huddersfield Town in the last 16, while Leicester – 10th in the Premier League and out of the Europa League – reflect on the latest setback of a tough season.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was happy with the cameo from new signing Luis Diaz after the Reds beat Cardiff City 3-1 at Anfield in the FA Cup fourth round.

Second-half goals from Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Harvey Elliott secured Liverpool's passage to the fifth round, where they will play Norwich City at home.

Diaz arrived in the game as a 58th-minute substitute and had a hand in a goal just 10 minutes later as he won the ball from Perry Ng, before some neat dribbling allowed him to pull it back – via a flick off Jota – towards Minamino to score Liverpool's second.

Klopp was impressed with the Colombian's impact and also assuaged fears that Diaz picked up an injury after the former Porto man looked in pain when Cardiff defender Aden Flint accidentally landed on his knee.

"He's good, thank god," Klopp confirmed. "The goal he set up for Taki [Minamino] was incredible. High press, I love it!

"He goes down, holds his knee. He is bruised on his knee. It's red. 'Welcome to England!' He has his first assist and first scar. I don't think it'll be serious."

Diaz completed 19 of his 20 passes on his Liverpool debut, and successfully executed all 11 of passes made in the opposition half.

The Reds boss also had words of praise for Elliott, whose 76th-minute strike at the Kop end was his first goal for the senior team and arrived in his first game back after five months out with a dislocated ankle.

The 18-year-old suffered the injury in the 3-0 win at Leeds United in September, but his manager said he handled the setback admirably.

"He's a kid, yes. On the pitch not so much," Klopp added. "He was buzzing. He was waiting for this moment. We were all waiting but the fact we could do it today was so nice.

"I was in a worse mood than he was after the injury. He was like, 'Come on boss, head up. I'll be back!'"

Harvey Elliott scored on his return to action as Liverpool eventually overcame Cardiff City at Anfield on Sunday to head through to the fifth round of the FA Cup.

The Reds were made to work hard by the Championship side but second-half goals from Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Elliott saw them run out 3-1 winners, the second assisted by debutant Luis Diaz.

Steve Morison's Bluebirds spent the majority of the game defending but were well organised and frustrated Liverpool for large periods, and Rubin Colwill grabbed a consolation goal to delight the travelling Welsh fans.

The fifth-round draw was made before the game and Jurgen Klopp's side will host Norwich City next up.

Cardiff started brightly but it was Liverpool who should have been ahead early on after a clever turn from Jota ended with the Portugal international firing straight at Dillon Phillips.

The Premier League side struggled to break down a stubborn visiting defence and had to wait until the 34th minute for their next big chance as a nice move down the left ended with Minamino finding Curtis Jones, who hit his effort high into the Anfield Road End.

Liverpool were finally ahead in the 53rd minute as a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick was expertly glanced past Phillips' dive to his right by Jota.

There were big cheers again shortly after as Elliott and Diaz were brought off the bench by Klopp, and the Colombia international played a big role in Liverpool's second as he dispossessed Perry Ng before pulling the ball back for Minamino to fire home.

Elliott joined in the action as he fired a shot in at the Kop end after an Andy Robertson cross fell to him, before Colwill pulled one back with an equally impressive finish with 10 minutes to go.

What does it mean? Reds still in the hunt for four trophies

The fourth round of the FA Cup has not been kind to Klopp since his arrival in England.

In their six previous campaigns under the German, Liverpool have been eliminated at this stage on four occasions – more than any other side in the competition in this time.

However, they march on after a win here and remain as one of only two Premier League sides, along with Chelsea, who can still win at least four trophies this season.

Who needs Salah and Mane?

Liverpool had 82 per cent of possession in the first half but failed to carve out many meaningful chances.

The pressure told early in the second half, though, and this now makes it five wins out of six in all competitions since star duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane left for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bluebirds must now sing in the league

Morison can be pleased with the effort of his team at Anfield, especially considering he made eight changes to the team that beat Barnsley last time out.

However, now their FA Cup journey is over they must find a way to show the same determination in the Championship, where they sit in 20th spot, nine points ahead of Peterborough United in the relegation zone but having played a game more.

What’s next?

Liverpool host Leicester City in the Premier League on Thursday while Cardiff are at home to Peterborough in the Championship on Wednesday.

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