Wesley Fofana has signed a new contract with Leicester City that will keep him at the Premier League club until 2027.

Fofana joined The Foxes from Saint-Etienne in October 2020 and impressed at the King Power Stadium in his first campaign in England, being named the club's Young Player of the Season as Leicester won the FA Cup and narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification. 

However, the France Under-21 international has not played since suffering a broken leg and damaged ankle ligaments in a pre-season friendly against Villarreal last August.

That has not stopped the club from committing to securing Fofana's future though, and the centre-back's new deal was announced on Monday.

Speaking to Leicester's official website, Fofana said: "I'm really happy to sign a new contract. It shows the club have confidence in me offering me a contract to 2027.

"I'm really happy to be here. It's my club, I love the fans, so I'm really happy and really looking forward to being back playing.

"I love everything about the club. I love the city, I love the fans. It's a family which is what I love the most. Everyone is close and gets on well.

"We also have a great team and are continuing to progress, with a desire to win more trophies. That's why I have committed my future to the club until 2027. I want to achieve more with the club. There is a lot of talent here and still a lot more we can do together."

Brendan Rodgers recently confirmed that Fofana is back in training, but insisted he will not rush the 21-year-old back after such a serious injury.

Fofana follows fellow Foxes defenders Ricardo Pereira and James Justin in signing a new contract at the club, with both recently penning deals until 2026.

Liverpool closed the gap on leaders Manchester City with victory over West Ham, while Chelsea tightened their grip on third place in Saturday's Premier League action.

The Blues saw off Burnley 4-0 at Turf Moor, a scoreline that was matched by Aston Villa in their statement victory against Southampton.

Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Brentford also picked up wins, but it was a bad start to life under new management for Leeds in their early kick-off against Leicester City.

Following another eventful day of Premier League action, Stats Perform delves into the key Opta facts from each of the games.

Leeds United 0-1 Leicester City: New manager, same Leeds

Jesse Marsch's first game as Leeds boss ended in defeat to Leicester as United fell to a fifth successive league loss for the first time since April 2015, when they were in the Championship.

Leeds have failed to score in three straight league matches for the first time in a year, this despite registering 19 shots in their latest blank against Leicester.

United's expected goals (xG) return of 1.95 is their highest without scoring in a league game since June 2020, and the familiar failings were also on show at the other end.

Harvey Barnes' second-half winner means Leeds have gone 13 league games without a clean sheet, their longest-such run since 14 without a shutout ending in August 2016.

This was the fifth straight league game Barnes has scored against Leeds – four of those while playing for Leicester and one for West Brom, making them his favourite opponent.

 

Aston Villa 4-0 Southampton: Coutinho's home comforts

Villa are firmly back on track after registering back-to-back victories under Steven Gerrard for the first time since his opening two games in charge in November.

The Villans put four unanswered goals past Southampton at Villa Park for their biggest Premier League win since thrashing Liverpool 7-2 in October 2020.

Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho once again played a big part in the victory by scoring one and assisting another for Douglas Luiz.

Coutinho has now been directly involved in six goals in his first four home league games for Villa, scoring three of his own and setting up as many.

Ollie Watkins had earlier opened the scoring with his 21st Premier League strike since the start of the 2020-21 season, while Danny Ings added to his two assists with Villa's fourth goal.

 

Newcastle United 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Fraser helps end Magpies' duck against Seagulls

For a while things looked incredibly bleak for Newcastle, even after their big-money takeover, but they now find themselves seven points above the relegation zone.

The Magpies held off Brighton to make it eight Premier League games without defeat – no team is on a better such run – with five of those matches ending in victory.

Ryan Fraser opened the scoring to make it two goals in five Premier League outings, matching his tally from his previous 70 appearances, before setting up Fabian Schar.

That was the earliest United have scored twice in a Premier League home game since January 2007 and, despite Lewis Dunk's header, Eddie Howe's side saw out the win.

It marks the first time Newcastle have defeated Brighton in the Premier League in their 10th such encounter, having previously failed to so much as score against them at home.

 

Norwich City 1-3 Brentford: Bees buzzing thanks to Toney treble

After a run of eight Premier League games without a win, Brentford bolstered their survival ambitions with a well-earned victory away at bottom side Norwich.

Ivan Toney was the hero for the Bees with three goals, two of those from the penalty spot, making Brentford the 40th different team to boast a hat-trick scorer.

The Brentford striker now has nine Premier League goals for the season, each of those coming via his right foot.

Teemu Pukki scored a consolation but it was another miserable day for Norwich, whose goal difference of -42 is the worst at this stage since Derby County in 2007-08 (-44).

Not that it will matter a great deal in the grand scheme of things, but Brentford are the first team Pukki has scored home and away against in a single Premier League season.

 

Wolves 0-2 Crystal Palace: Shaky Wanderers lose again

Wolves' European hopes suffered another blow as they fell to a third successive Premier League defeat, as many as they lost in their previous 13.

Bruno Lage's out-of-form side have now conceded six goals in their last four league games, after shipping just five in 12 before that.

Jean-Philippe Mateta came up with the breakthrough from close range for his fourth goal in eight Premier League starts, and Wilfried Zaha doubled Palace's lead from the penalty spot.

Ivory Coast international Zaha has now been directly involved in 83 goals in the competition, the joint-ninth best total for an African player, level with Nwankwo Kanu.

With this latest loss, it is the first time Wolves have lost three games in a row against Palace in their entire league history.

 

Burnley 0-4 Chelsea: Blues cruise at Turf Moor

It was business as usual for Chelsea as they won for a third Premier League game running without conceding in what proved to be a straightforward victory at lowly Burnley.

The Blues scored all four of their goals in the second half as they enjoyed their biggest away league win since October 2018 when also beating Burnley by the same scoreline.

This was the biggest margin of victory for an away side in a game that was goalless at half-time since Tottenham beat Aston Villa 4-0 in December 2012.

Reece James started the scoring and in the process became the first defender from Europe's top five leagues to both score and assist five goals this term in all competitions.

Kai Havertz also netted twice before Christian Pulisic added some gloss to the scoreline – his fourth goal at Turf Moor, matching a record for an away player set by Tottenham's Harry Kane.

 

Liverpool 1-0 West Ham: Reds roll on thanks to Mane

Sadio Mane's first-half goal made it seven wins in a row for Liverpool in the Premier League, their best such streak since a run of 18 when they claimed the title two years ago.

That close-range finish was Mane's 12th of the season in the league, nine of those coming at Anfield – no player has scored more home goals in the division this season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold played the ball into the box for Mane's goal for his 16th assist in all competitions this term, more than he has ever registered in a single campaign.

Liverpool were not at their best and that was particularly true of Mohamed Salah, who failed to score from six shots – only against Stoke in April 2018 (seven) has he fared worse.

Incredibly, Virgil van Dijk has never been on the losing side for Liverpool in 60 Premier League home games at Anfield, setting a new record in that regard.

 

Jamie Vardy has now scored 94 Premier League goals since turning 30, surpassing the previous record.

Vardy, who had been ruled out with a hamstring injury since Leicester City's win over Liverpool on December 28, returned to the matchday squad for their trip to Turf Moor on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old came on as a second-half substitute and, after assisting James Maddison's opener, wrapped up a 2-0 win - Leicester's first league victory of 2022 - when he headed home from Harvey Barnes' cross.

He has now surpassed Ian Wright's tally of 93 Premier League goals after hitting the age of 30, and also both scored and assisted after coming on as a substitute for the first time in his top-flight career.

"He's just clever," Brendan Rodgers said, as reported by BBC Sport Leicester. "His game knowledge and idea of the game, the streetwise things, [they] are the things we’ve been missing [in his absence]. 

"His movement was electric, his running brings others into the game."

Since his Premier League debut in August 2014, Vardy has been directly involved in 168 goals in the competition, scoring 128 times and providing 40 assists. His haul is bettered only by his former England team-mate Harry Kane during that time, with the Tottenham man tallying up 207 Premier League goal contributions. 

Leicester City eased into the last 16 of the Europa Conference League as a scarcely deserved 3-1 win at Randers secured a 7-2 aggregate victory. 

Despite a difficult season to this point, Leicester are considered to be among the favourites for a competition they had hoped not to be in when their Europa League campaign began. 

Moments of quality from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison ensured there would be no nerves for Brendan Rodgers' men in their knockout round play-off, although this was far from a convincing performance. 

On the balance of play, Randers – beaten 4-1 in England – could well have threatened a dramatic second-leg turnaround in Denmark, but they passed up a series of chances and allowed Leicester to emerge with a one-sided final score. 

Light snow and a poor pitch contributed to tricky conditions for flowing football – not that Barnes was slowed inside two minutes as he raced away and shaped a low finish around Patrik Carlgren into the bottom-right corner. 

Randers were far less clinical from a similar opportunity at the other end soon afterwards. Kasper Schmeichel saved from Stephen Odey and Jakob Ankersen in quick succession when both dallied in front of goal following a four-man breakaway. 

Chances continued to come and go for the home side, who had Bjorn Kopplin poke wide, Vito Hammershoy-Mistrati prod across the face of goal and Simon Piesinger blast over the crossbar before half-time. 

Odey drew an instinctive stop from Schmeichel following the restart and had a shot blocked on the line from the subsequent corner. 

The forward found time to miss the far post when well placed too, before further ruthless contributions from another of Leicester's key men saw Maddison pick out the top-left corner with a fine free-kick and then the top-right in open play four minutes later. 

Odey at least had the final say, pouncing on a Schmeichel error to deny the Denmark international a hard-earned clean sheet. 

Sure, relying on Mohamed Salah every week is a decent fantasy football strategy, it's certainly good enough for most, but what happens when the Egyptian magician isn't in Premier League action?

With Liverpool in EFL Cup final duty against Chelsea, the Reds' fearsome front-line and creative full-backs are suddenly off limits to fantasy football managers across the land, while Arsenal and Chelsea are also out of league action.

However, courtesy of Opta-powered data, Stats Perform has managed to pick out some of gameweek 27's potential stars, featuring the England captain, an in-form Burnley new boy, and one of the Premier League's most lethal defenders.

HARRY KANE (Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur)

Despite Antonio Conte's team lurching to a fourth loss in five Premier League games at Turf Moor in midweek, the England captain remains the perfect pick for managers who need a big-hitter in Salah's absence.

Kane has been involved in seven goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances, registering six goals and an assist in that time. Meanwhile, five of those contributions, including four goals, have come on the road.

If that isn't enough to make managers' minds up, Kane will be facing a Leeds team which has already shipped 56 league goals this term, and has scored 10 goals in his eight Premier League appearances in Yorkshire. 

DAVID DE GEA (Manchester United v Watford)

For those looking for an adequate replacement for the likes of Allison or Edouard Mendy between the sticks, Red Devils stopper De Gea looks to be the perfect choice, ahead of a kind home fixture with Watford.

When looking at Opta's Expected Goals on Target data, no Premier League goalkeeper has prevented more goals than the Spaniard this season, with De Gea conceding 32 Premier League goals from 39.09 xG on target faced.

Although De Gea did ship four times when Watford ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils reign earlier this season, United have never lost a home league game against Watford, recording 11 wins and two draws against the Hornets at Old Trafford. They have not faced any other side in more home games during their league history without losing (also 13 unbeaten vs Hull City).

CRAIG DAWSON (West Ham United v Wolves)

The best fantasy football managers are those that find themselves looking for marginal gains, and what better way to do that than to pick one of the division's most lethal defenders?

Since the 2014-15 season, no Premier League defender can match Dawson's tally of 14 headed goals, and the big centre-back has now netted in successive games, against Leicester City and Newcastle United.

West Ham's next Premier League clash sees them take on Wolves at the London Stadium. For all their good form, the visitors are averaging under a goal per game this season, so Dawson could also be in with a chance of a clean sheet.

WOUT WEGHORST (Crystal Palace v Burnley, Burnley v Leicester City)

Finally, Burnley's towering Dutch striker Wout Weghorst stands out as an appealing under-the-radar selection, ahead of the Clarets facing two games in four days.

Since Weghorst made his move from Wolfsburg to Turf Moor, he has weighed in with a goal and two assists, meaning only Salah (three goals and one assist) has registered more goal involvements amongst Premier League players since his arrival.

Although Burnley's weekend opponents Crystal Palace have been buoyed by a 4-1 win over Watford, they then host a Leicester team which has conceded 40.61 expected goals this season, a tally worse than all but three Premier League teams, so another Weghorst contribution could be on the cards.

Brendan Rodgers described Wesley Fofana as "a genuinely top player" as the defender returned to training with Leicester City.

The centre-back has not played since fracturing his fibula in a pre-season friendly against Villarreal last August.

Fofana's absence has felt particularly significant in a Leicester season blighted by injuries. Rodgers' side have won just seven Premier League games in 2021-22 and conceded 43 goals, with only three sides letting in more in England's top flight.

Leicester also shipped 11 in their Europa League group games as they finished third behind Spartak Moscow and Napoli, dropping into a Europa Conference League play-off against Randers, the second leg of which is on Thursday.

Fofana will certainly not be involved in that game and is unlikely to return for some weeks as Rodgers eases him back into action.

However, the Leicester boss is thrilled to have the 21-year-old back at the training ground.

"We have to be careful with Wesley, but we'll manage that," he said. "He's just joined training, so he's not imminently close to playing. We'll give him a few weeks training with the squad, and then we'll take it from there really.

"Just to see him back in training, it really shows what we've missed. This is a genuine top talent. When you see him come back in, it was like the first day he came in to train when he joined us. It's a different mentality – aggression, anticipation. It's just sheer quality that the boy has.

"We'll just build him up and there's no doubt, when he gets back to playing, it will be great to have him back in the team. Throughout his rehabilitation, he's been superb. For a young player, in particular, it's his first real big injury, so it'll be hard for him to be out, but he really focused on his work ever so hard.

"It's great to have him back. It's like JJ [James Justin] coming back in [from an ACL injury]. You see the quality of the player that you've been missing when they're back in the group. That gives the group a boost. He's a genuine top player. When you have that quality, you see the mentality of him.

"He's aggressive, he fights for every ball, he’s competitive and then, when he has the ball, he's got big quality. To have that back in your training will always improve the level. It's great for me to see that on its way back into the team."

By now, you probably all get it: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah are pretty good at kicking a football.

So, for this week's fantasy picks, Stats Perform has looked at the Opta numbers behind some players who may not offer quite the same points guarantee as the superstars, but are cheaper and nowhere near as popular.

If everyone picks the exact same players, fantasy football managers will pick up similar points – why not take a punt on some of these?

NICK POPE (Brighton and Hove Albion v Burnley)

Burnley may be mired in a relegation battle, but goalkeeper Nick Pope has looked sharp so far in 2022.

The England international has kept two clean sheets, bettered only by Alisson and Ederson, and prevented more goals than anyone else (3.6).

He may represent something of a risk, but his form suggests Pope could be a shrewd buy.

RICARDO PEREIRA (Wolves v Leicester City)

Granted, Pereira has only scored in consecutive games once before, way back in September 2019. However, his strike against West Ham was a timely reminder of his talents following injury troubles.

Up next is a trip to Wolves. While Bruno Lage's men are solid, they do not scored masses, and Pereira has done damage to them before.

With two assists, he has only claimed more goal involvements against Everton (three) and West Ham (four) in his Premier League career.

JACOB RAMSEY (Aston Villa v Watford)

Ramsey has been a standout breakthrough youngster in the Premier League this term, with his form in recent weeks in particular causing people to sit up and take note.

The 20-year-old has six goal involvements this season, a figure only Bukayo Saka (10) can better among under-21 players.

Five of Ramsey's have been in his past seven matches, and this weekend sees Villa host struggling Watford – he might just fancy his chances of adding to his tally, and he is still a fairly cheap option.

MICHAEL OLISE (Crystal Palace v Chelsea)

Olise is another young player having a solid season – he has also tallied six Premier League goal involvements this term.

Those have come in just 568 minutes on the pitch, meaning he is involved in 0.95 goals per 90 minutes.

Only Mohamed Salah (1.19), Patson Daka (1.05), Riyad Mahrez (1.0) and Paul Pogba (0.98) boast a better record than Olise among players with at least 500 minutes played.

Again, he remains a low-cost option.

Liverpool responded to Manchester City's thrashing of Norwich by recording a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley.

Fabinho struck the only goal in the first half, as the Reds continued their fine set-piece record on a day when set-plays proved decisive across the Premier League.

Elsewhere, Raul Jimenez starred as Wolves leapfrogged Tottenham with a shock 2-0 win, and Newcastle continued their revival with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, thanks to Kieran Tripper's free-kick.

The final game of the day saw West Ham rescue a dramatic 2-2 draw at Leicester City, with Craig Dawson netting a stoppage-time equaliser.

Burnley 0-1 Liverpool: Reds reap rewards of set-piece focus

Liverpool did not produce a vintage performance, but Jurgen Klopp's men kept leaders Manchester City on their toes by earning a vital away win.

The Reds had to work hard for the three points against Burnley at Turf Moor. After managing 27 shots, nine attempts on target and 50 touches in Burnley's penalty area in the reverse fixture at Anfield last August, Liverpool had just over half as many touches in Burnley's 18-yard box this time (26), managing 12 shots in total and just four on target.

However, Klopp's men dug deep to find a winning goal, and did so courtesy of their fantastic set-piece record. Excluding penalties, 14 of Liverpool’s 61 Premier League goals this season have come via set-pieces, more than any other team and more than the tally they recorded in the top-flight last term (13).

Fabinho's winning goal also means he has scored more goals in his last seven matches (five) than he managed in his first 142 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions (four).

Meanwhile, the Anfield outfit also maintained their record of having won each of their games in which the Brazilian has netted for the club, with that run now reaching eight matches.

Tottenham 0-2 Wolves: Jimenez proves decisive at Spurs once again

It was Wolves, rather than Tottenham, who asserted their top-four credentials by recording a huge win in north London, with Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker firing the visitors to a 2-0 win.

Mexican striker Jimenez has now scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances away at Spurs (three goals), with Wolves winning each of those contests.

Indeed, Jimenez has now scored four times in six appearances against Tottenham, and has only scored more Premier League goals against Southampton and Everton (five).

For Antonio Conte's Spurs, the defeat was their third Premier League reverse in succession, and they also lost three consecutive league games under Nuno Espirito Santo in September 2021. This marks the first time they have had multiple three-match losing games in a Premier League campaign since 2004-05 (also two).

Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa: Another free-kick continues Toon revival

Newcastle's clash with Aston Villa was not exactly one for the purists, featuring the third-lowest expected goals tally of the entire Premier League season so far, but Tripper ensured that it was a memorable day for the Magpies.

Trippier's 35th-minute free-kick was enough to see off Steven Gerrard's men in a contest where both teams created just 0.5 xG apiece.

Remarkably, Newcastle have now scored a direct free-kick goal in each of their last three Premier League games (Jonjo Shelvey at Leeds, followed by Trippier against Everton and Aston Villa), becoming the first side to do so since Liverpool in December 2013.

In a game of fine margins, the England right-back showed the quality that he brings to the Magpies' relegation fight, and he is now the first Newcastle player to score direct free-kick goals in consecutive Premier League games since Hugo Viana did so in May 2003.

David Moyes will continue to pick Kurt Zouma despite the West Ham defender being the subject of an investigation after attacking his pet cat.

A disturbing video surfaced this week showing Zouma kicking and slapping his cat.

The player's two pets have since been taken into the care of the RSPCA, which is investigating the clip with the support of West Ham.

The Hammers have already fined Zouma "the maximum amount possible" – reported to be £250,000 – but he remains available for selection.

Zouma, who has apologised, played against Watford on Tuesday and will again be among manager Moyes' options against Leicester City this weekend.

Moyes said ahead of that game: "There are different views whether he should be available. We decided he should. I stand by that.

"I don't think a club could have taken action any quicker than they've done at the moment. West Ham have done a really good job.

"I'm not condoning him, his actions were terrible, they were diabolical, but we've chosen to play him and we stand by that.

"We will get him some help. We are trying to do as much as we can as a club, as a team, to help him.

"Like people who maybe have drink-driving offences, most of them have to go to classes to learn the reasons and the damage that can be done.

"I think RSPCA are going to provide us some courses for Kurt to understand about animals and how to treat them.

"He's incredibly remorseful. Like everybody else, in life sometimes you need a bit of forgiveness. He's hoping he is forgiven for a bad action."

Things have not quite gone to plan for Cristiano Ronaldo in his second coming at Manchester United.

The Red Devils are out of both domestic cup competitions and sit well off the pace of Premier League leaders Manchester City, making an unlikely Champions League triumph their remaining hope for silverware this season.

Ronaldo is enduring a five-game goal drought and, according to a report, he could choose to end his second United spell after only one season.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO WANTS MENDES TALKS OVER FUTURE

Cristiano Ronaldo will speak with his agent after growing disillusioned with life at Manchester United, according to the Daily Star.

The forward is hoping to speak with Jorge Mendes when he is back in Portugal for March's World Cup play-off against Turkey about his options after the end of the season.

Ronaldo, whose contract runs until the end of 2022-23, wants to see who will be appointed as United's next permanent manager – but he is not in favour of giving the job to interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

ROUND-UP

- Paul Pogba is also looking to leave Manchester United this year when his contract expires, but he will have to accept a pay cut to get a move abroad that he wants, the Mirror says.

- A possible replacement for Pogba could be Youri Tielemans. Het Nieuwsblad reports Leicester City have dropped their asking price for the midfielder, who is wanted by United and Arsenal.

Real Madrid rejected the idea of signing Dusan Vlahovic, now at Juventus, because they are putting everything into getting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, says Cadena Ser.

- However, AS reports Madrid are still seriously interested in Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, which could scupper Robert Lewandowski's hopes of moving to the Spanish capital.

Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is flattered by interest from Chelsea and Barcelona, Sport Mediaset claims.

Barca are also desperate to sign Haaland and will therefore prioritise cut-price deals for defenders, says ESPN. Chelsea trio Cesar AzpilicuetaAndreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso are on their shortlist.

You wait nearly three weeks for a Premier League matchday and then two arrive at once…

Reigning champions and leaders Manchester City head to strugglers Norwich City, while Liverpool visit the lowly Burnley after the Clarets earned a valuable point against Manchester United in midweek.

Ralf Rangnick's Red Devils face Southampton, who impressed with a comeback victory over Tottenham on Wednesday. Antonio Conte's side will hope to bounce back at home to Wolves.

Ahead of the action, Stats Perform uses Opta data to aid your fantasy football selection dilemmas.

JOSE SA (Tottenham v Wolves)

Wolves have become specialists in securing slender wins to propel them towards an unlikely qualification for European football.

Jose Sa has been central to the success of Bruno Lage's backline, saving 69 of the 86 shots on target he has faced – the best save percentage (80 per cent) in the Premier League of any goalkeeper to play at least five games.

While he will be tasked with keeping Son Heung-min and Harry Kane out, the Portugal goalkeeper could be good shout for some important save bonus points.

ANDREW ROBERTSON (Burnley v Liverpool)

Robertson is hardly a new phenomenon for the veteran fantasy football players, but the Scotland international has been sensational on the road for Liverpool.

The left-back has provided five assists in his last four top-flight away games and has six overall for the Reds on the road this season – the last player to assist more away from Anfield in the league was Danny Murphy (seven) in 2002-03.

With Burnley struggling at the top end of the pitch as well, the former Hull City man could be a likely source of clean-sheet points as well.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Newcastle United v Aston Villa)

Philippe Coutinho has starred under Steven Gerrard in his limited time as a loanee at Aston Villa, registering a goal and two assists against Leeds United on Wednesday.

That took the Brazil international's tally to four goal involvements (two goals, two assists) in his opening three league games for Villa, averaging a goal or an assist every 44 minutes.

Eddie Howe's Newcastle United are down in the relegation mix, so Coutinho remains a smart pick with many expecting goals galore at St. James' Park.

PATSON DAKA (Leicester City v West Ham)

Leicester City have endured a tough period under Brendan Rodgers, but Patson Daka has still been a standout performer for the Foxes.

The Zambian striker has found the net in four of his five home top-flight appearances and is providing previous fantasy favourite Jamie Vardy with some stiff competition.

Daka has scored on all three of his home league starts and could be the seventh Premier League player in history to do so in his first four if he can breach the West Ham defence on Sunday.

Diogo Jota was hailed as "unstoppable" after the Liverpool forward fired the Premier League title hopefuls to a 2-0 win over Leicester City.

Former Wolves man Jota scored both goals at Anfield to take his tally for the season to 17 goals across all competitions, his best haul for a season in England.

Liverpool drew nine saves from Kasper Schmeichel, a total only surpassed twice by a goalkeeper in the English top flight this season, with the Dane keeping Leicester in the game until Jota scored his second late on.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said Jota, a big-money arrival from Wolves 18 months ago, is becoming the clinical finisher he always had the potential to become.

"We had the sense it could happen," said a delighted Klopp.

Looking at Liverpool's performance, Klopp said: "It was not the best game we ever played, but it was enough for us to be the deserved winners tonight."

There was much to enjoy, with Mohamed Salah making a sharp 30-minute cameo off the bench four days after experiencing Africa Cup of Nations final disappointment with Egypt.

Salah could have scored a hat-trick, hitting the crossbar and drawing fine saves from Schmeichel, while new addition Luis Diaz looked the part on his Premier League debut.

Diaz received a warm ovation when he was substituted late on, having impressed on the left side of Liverpool's three-man attack.

Klopp said it was "a surprise" that the 25-year-old looked so immediately at home, telling BT Sport: "It looks natural in a lot of moments. That's really quick. It was an outstanding game for a first start, it was really impressive. He was involved in so many good football moments."

Liverpool's win moves them to nine points behind Manchester City, with a game in hand on the leaders, but Klopp said: "I don't think they smell our breath already."

Jota has been on the winning side in each of the 16 Premier League home games in which he has found the net (seven for Wolves, nine for Liverpool), and it was his sharpness in the box that undid Leicester.

"I always try to get into those decisive spaces," Jota said. "It's my best [goals haul] so far, and I want to keep adding, keep helping the team."

Jota's efforts delighted team-mate Andy Robertson, who said: "He's unstoppable just now, and when you've got people playing with that confidence we always believe we can score goals.

"We've got competition all over the park. We'll keep putting pressure on each other ... hopefully the results keep on coming."

Robertson also saluted the display from Diaz, with the Colombian showing he can carry the form he showed for Porto into the English game.

"In his first training session I saw him flying about and thought, 'Yeah, he'll be OK here'," said Robertson.

"We just need to let him bed in. He's got the language to hopefully pick up and the way we play, but for his first start I thought he was excellent. To be flying into tackles, that's one way to get the crowd to love you straightaway, and I think they really took to him."

Like Klopp, Robertson is playing down title talk.

"The gap's still too big," said the Reds left-back. "Manchester City are still in the driving seat, but we just need to keep putting pressure on them.

"We're still fighting for four competitions. It's going to be an exciting run-in, hopefully. As long as we keep playing with the confidence we're playing with, I believe we can keep winning."

Liverpool welcomed back Mohamed Salah and avenged a painful defeat to Leicester City as Diogo Jota's double clinched a 2-0 win at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's men lost to the Foxes during a tough three-game run in the Premier League from December 19 to January 2, when Liverpool took just two points and Manchester City pulled away at the top.

This time it was the Reds who prevailed, Jota making the difference on a night when the hosts could have filled their boots. Former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, enduring a tough campaign, was thankful for goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel keeping the visitors in the game with a string of saves.

Liverpool's newest recruit Luis Diaz made his Premier League debut and looked at home on the left of the front three, before substitute Salah, back from the Africa Cup of Nations, added pep to the hosts' attack late on.

James Maddison had a decent early chance for Leicester, with Alisson forced to tip over the bar from the midfielder. A powerful strike from Trent Alexander-Arnold at the other end was then too close to Schmeichel who was able to push the ball behind.

Liverpool edged ahead in the 34th minute when a powerful Virgil van Dijk header from Alexander-Arnold's corner was blocked by Schmeichel before Jota blasted in the loose ball from five yards.

Jota scooped over from close range just before the hour mark after Van Dijk won another header from a corner, with Liverpool looking to lock up the points. Klopp sent on Salah, fresh from Egypt duty, as Roberto Firmino made way on the hour mark.

Diaz rattled a shot into the Kop after running at the Leicester defence before Salah had a strike charged down by Schmeichel. Salah then looked sure to score as he raced through, only for Schmeichel to palm away his dinked shot on goal.

Salah hit the angle of left post and crossbar with a 20-yard attempt before Diaz had a scorcher repelled by the busy Schmeichel. Jota tied up the win in the 87th minute though, beating Schmeichel with a strike into the left corner after a nudge through from Joel Matip.

Jurgen Klopp detailed Mohamed Salah's huge disappointment after returning to Liverpool following Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations final defeat, although the Reds manager hopes he and the team can "benefit" from that pain.

Salah and Egypt were beaten on penalties by Senegal in Sunday's AFCON decider, with Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane scoring the winning spot-kick.

While Mane is yet to return amid Senegal's celebrations – granted additional time to "just enjoy it, enjoy themselves" and then "come back as early as possible", likely late on Wednesday – Salah has already rejoined Liverpool.

The superstar winger should be in line to face Leicester City in the Premier League on Thursday, although he is visibly hurting from his international heartbreak.

"He's very disappointed, obviously," boss Klopp said on Wednesday. "It was a massive thing.

"Losing a final is always really, really hard – we can sing that song – but losing the way they lost it is especially hard. That's what he felt, as well.

"He's happy to be back, but he's disappointed as well – massively so. We spoke obviously, about the tournament, everything, and he will deal with that of course.

"I hope today will be already better, but yesterday everybody could see he still has the final on his mind."

Asked how Salah might respond to the setback as Liverpool still pursue four titles, Klopp replied: "Greater determination than Mo already had? I'm not sure that's human.

"Playing a tournament, not knowing where you'll go to, then qualifying in the hardest possible manner for the final, then against the tournament favourites playing a game like Egypt played, an absolutely great final, if you think about what they all invested already before – both teams – and how hard they fought – especially Egypt, how hard they fought to keep a team like Senegal quiet – yes, that all helps in the long term.

"But I don't think there's a lot of space for more determination in Mo's mind. He is very determined.

"Using these kinds of things is the job for all of us when you lose a final – we are obviously the best example for that.

"When you lose a final, it's really hard, really, really hard. But when you use it for the next big game or next big tournament, then it can be at least helpful when it was still hard.

"He will benefit from it, we will benefit from it, but in which [way] exactly, we do not know."

With Salah in the squad and Mane soon to join him, Klopp is close to having a full complement of players to choose from – although he did add captain Jordan Henderson has a back problem.

Liverpool will be aiming to end a run of two straight league defeats to Leicester, last losing three in a row in this fixture in 1963. No team have beaten Klopp's Reds more often in the top flight during his tenure (four – tied with Manchester City).

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed "physical monster" Mohamed Salah is in contention to face Leicester City on Thursday after Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations heartbreak.

Salah played the full 120 minutes of Sunday's AFCON final loss to Senegal, with his side beaten 4-2 on penalties following a goalless draw after extra time.

The 29-year-old returned to training with Liverpool less than 48 hours later, however, and has declared himself ready to play a part against Leicester at Anfield.

"Mo is now back. I have spoken to him already," Klopp told the Reds' official website on Tuesday. 

"He is very disappointed of course, but looking forward to all the things coming up here now.

"I spoke to him and pretty much the first thing Mo told me was: 'I'm ready'. He is an experienced player; a physical monster, to be honest, so we have to see. 

"He will obviously have a little recovery session today and we will see how he feels tomorrow and from there we go.

"The proper plan we don't have, play him as often and as long as possible is probably the plan, but we will not rush it. 

"But if he is fine we will not leave him out for the wrong reasons as well, so let's see."

While Salah was left to rue what might have been for Egypt, club-mate Sadio Mane was celebrating a maiden international title after scoring the decisive spot-kick for Senegal.

Mane was still celebrating his country's triumph in Dakar on Monday and will not be considered for selection by Klopp against Leicester.

"Sadio has no chance as he's not even here, but Mo yes," Klopp said.

"Sadio flies out if it's possible on Wednesday night, so will arrive here on Thursday but he is, of course, then not involved in the Leicester game.

"It means the world to him, it means the world to his people, it means the world to Senegal. 

"We respect that a lot and we would never consider to have called back him from there or whatever – let them do what they do in the moment because they deserve it.

"They've had an incredibly intense time, so when he is back we will talk to him and we will see how we can use him."

Mane missed a penalty early on in the final and Klopp praised the forward for keeping his cool when it came to stepping up for the decisive spot-kick in the shoot-out.

"The pressure on Sadio with missing the penalty in the game and then the last one… wow! I cannot imagine how he would have felt," the German said. 

"But you could see the joy and relief after that so he was obviously in the best possible shape.

"We have text a little bit here and there but he is still in Africa, still in Senegal, celebrating and we will see – Wednesday night or something like that we will send him out. 

"But yes, it was obviously a big tournament and meant the world to him.

"I think both played a great tournament. The responsibility on their shoulders is absolutely [huge] and the pressure on their shoulders is absolutely insane.

"I don't even have an idea how it must feel in these moments, they carry pretty much a whole country.

"So, Mo couldn't make it but played a really good tournament and Sadio made it and yes, now I have to say really congratulations, outstanding."

While Liverpool must wait for Mane's return, potentially having Salah back involved against Leicester is a huge boost for the Reds.

Salah has scored 16 goals in 20 Premier League games this term – six more than anyone else – while assisting nine times, a tally only Trent Alexander-Arnold (10) can better.

Indeed, no player in Europe's top five league has scored and assisted more combined goals this season than Salah, who is level with Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski on 25.

Liverpool have lost their last two league games against Leicester, but they have won five in a row at Anfield in the top flight in what is their best-such run since December 2020.

Klopp also confirmed Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are back in training after missing Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round win against Cardiff City.

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