Benfica are not afraid of the challenge that awaits them in their Champions League quarter-final tie with Liverpool, according to midfielder Adel Taarabt.

Liverpool enter the first leg of their showdown with Benfica at Estadio da Luz on Tuesday as strong favourites, having won 16 of their past 17 matches in all competitions.

The Reds have also won all four away games in UEFA's flagship club competition this term – only once, between 1983 and 1984 under Joe Fagan, have they won five in a row.

But having finished above Barcelona in the group stage before eliminating an in-form Ajax in the first knockout round, Taarabt does not fear Premier League giants Liverpool.

"Of course we can compete with them," Taarabt said at a pre-match news conference on Monday. "I think we can do it. 

"They are a team we have to respect, but we're not afraid of them. We know their quality and hope to be at our best."

While Liverpool may be in good form, they have lost each of their last three trips to face Benfica in European competition, the most recent of those games coming in the 2009-10 Europa League.

The Reds are a far different proposition under Jurgen Klopp, however, as they look to add the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup to the EFL Cup already won.

Taarabt, who spent seven years in English football with Tottenham, QPR and Fulham, puts Liverpool's successful streak in recent years down to a settled side.

"This team has been playing together now for four or five years," he said. "They have a lot of dynamics to them and play well. They are also very consistent.

"In the past there were a lot of players coming and going, though even when that was the case they were still a very good side."

Benfica beat Ajax 3-2 on aggregate to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for a fifth time, though they have never previously progressed any further.

Nothing will be decided in Tuesday's first leg and head coach Nelson Verissimo is hoping it will be all to play for at Anfield in next week's return fixture.

"In a two-legged tie it's always important how the first game ends," he said. "It was good for us when we played the first game at home against Ajax, and here it will be too.

"The result will be important to ensure the second leg remains open. It's important we start well, with the hope of progressing. But we know Liverpool's power."

Virgil van Dijk insists he is "just enjoying the moment" ahead of a run of games that could define Liverpool's season.

The Reds remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, having already won the EFL Cup, as they are into the last four of the FA Cup, the last eight of the Champions League and just a point behind Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.

Ahead of the Champions League quarter-final first leg away at Benfica on Tuesday, Van Dijk told reporters he is calm about the upcoming period, and is pleased that Liverpool currently have a full squad to use across the three remaining competitions.

"If you would say at the start of the season that you will still be in all competitions by this time of the year, also having a full squad, which last season wasn't really the case, we would have taken it easily," he said.

"I'm just enjoying the moment. We all as footballers want to play games – it asks a lot physically from us, but I'm just going for it and enjoying every moment."

Van Dijk missed most of last season with a knee injury, but has been a near ever-present since his return for Jurgen Klopp's men, making 39 appearances in all competitions so far this campaign, with 24 clean sheets to his name. 

Liverpool have conceded just three goals in their last 13 games in all competitions, and the 30-year-old was asked if he feels the defensive side of their game sometimes goes unnoticed.

"I must say, before the [January] international break, I did care a little bit," he said. "I think I said it in [another] interview, I felt a bit taken for granted, coming back from a long-term injury, that everything was normal, everyone expected the same [level of performance], and it's quite difficult.

"But after the break, I really didn't. Maybe that helped also the performances, but at the moment we're just doing it together. Everyone is playing their part, everyone is involved, the back four plus Alisson changes at times as well. If you look at the [EFL] cup final, with Caoimhin [Kelleher] coming in, the hero in the cup competitions.

"Kostas [Tsimikas] coming in, Joe [Gomez] coming in now as well, everyone is getting involved in the success we have as a defensive unit, but the way we defend is we do it all together, and everyone feels responsibility for that as well."

Questions have been asked of Liverpool's high line in recent weeks, despite the impressive defensive record, and Van Dijk was keen to question why, believing people are forgetting to discount opportunities against them that would have been given offside had a goal been scored.

"It's now being highlighted, but I think if you look back at the last couple of seasons we always try to play with a high line," he said.

"This season, and last season I think, we started with the rule that [we] keep playing on, and then the linesman puts the flag up. It looks like we are conceding chances against us.

"Even the other day [against Watford] when Ali had to make the save, it looked like we are vulnerable when he is offside, so I think that rule first of all has to get out of the way, but the other thing is the high line, we don't speak about it a lot but on the pitch you definitely have to communicate and I'm always trying to do that."

No team has caught opposition players offside in the Premier League as often this season, with Opta stats showing the Reds have successfully caught players offside on 124 occasions, well ahead of City (76), Wolves (70), Leicester City (62) and Brentford (59).

The Netherlands captain also had words of encouragement for his national team boss Louis van Gaal, who revealed on Dutch TV on Sunday he is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

"I was in shock last night when I heard his interview, because obviously he is getting his film out next week so I was just wondering how he would promote it and speak about his life, and then obviously this was a big shock," he added.

"I messaged him after the interview, but it definitely says a lot about him [as a person]... He's not the type of guy that needs a lot of sympathy, that's how he is, but I told him we are definitely going to be there for him as a group whenever needed, and also we can also hopefully make it for him a World Cup to never forget."

Benfica may not be as big of a name as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United but Anfield hero Patrik Berger warned Liverpool of the "tough" challenge they face in the Champions League quarter-final.

Liverpool edged past Inter 2-1 on aggregate in their last-16 clash, while Benfica knocked out Ajax to set up the last-eight meeting between the two sides, with the first leg set for Estadio Da Luz on Tuesday.

Despite the Reds appearing strong favourites, Benfica will be no pushovers given they have won their last three home meetings with Liverpool.

However, Jurgen Klopp has assembled a formidable winning machine as his team aim for victory in five consecutive away games in the European Cup and Champions League for just the second time, having last done so between 1983 and 1984 under Joe Fagan.

Liverpool also remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, the Reds in contention in Europe, the Premier League and FA Cup after lifting the EFL Cup earlier in the season, but Berger urged caution from his former club against Benfica.

"Benfica are a good side, in the last 16 of the Champions League all the teams are good," he told Stats Perform. "Maybe some of them don't have a name like Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United, but they are good team and they have good players.

"It's a tough opponent, they are playing well and it seems easy but it won't be easy they are a good side."


Former Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia also echoed Berger's sentiments as he called on the Reds to take each game as it comes.

"You can't underestimate any opposition," he told Stats Perform. "You have to go to every game with 100 per cent, and I think Klopp knows that as well so he will motivate the team to go 100 per cent in the next game."

Liverpool will look to continue their eight-game unbeaten run in the Champions League against Portuguese opposition, winning each of the last four, before hosting Benfica at Anfield in the return leg on April 13.

With the final international break of the season done and dusted, it was back to Premier League action on Saturday as teams prepare for the all-important run-in.

Having not had any changes of leader since the turn of the year, it was a novelty to see it change twice in one day, albeit with a familiar look at the end as Liverpool and Manchester City both recorded wins.

Something far less routine happened at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were clobbered by Brentford, while there was also a win for Wolves against Aston Villa and draws at Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds and Manchester United.

Stats Perform takes a look at some key Opta facts from a selection of the day's games…

Liverpool 2-0 Watford: Jota the slotter strikes again

It was a nervy afternoon at Anfield as Liverpool looked to leapfrog City to the top of the table.

Despite a determined performance from Roy Hodgson's Hornets, a first-half header from Diogo Jota and a late penalty from Fabinho secured the three points for the Reds.

It sent Jurgen Klopp's men to the top of the Premier League for the first time since December, albeit they were back to second later on after City's own win.

Liverpool are back in the title race after having won 10 consecutive Premier League games, becoming just the second side to embark on such a run on five separate occasions after City (also five).

It was another goal for Jota, his 20th of the season, and since making his Liverpool debut in September 2020, the Portugal international has scored more headed goals (nine) than any other player for a Premier League club in all competitions.

Burnley 0-2 Manchester City: Citizens retain top spot

Despite being displaced by their rivals, City eased to victory against Sean Dyche's side to take back their top spot just a couple of hours after losing it.

First-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan saw Pep Guardiola's men to the win, continuing their exemplary record against Burnley.

This made it 14 wins from their last 15 games against the Clarets in all competitions (D1), winning each of their last 10 by an aggregate scoreline of 34-1.

City are the only side yet to drop a single point from a winning position in the Premier League this season, winning all 23 games in which they have led. No side has ever gone through an entire Premier League campaign without dropping points when ahead before.

Aymeric Laporte made his 100th Premier League appearance, picking up his 82nd win – the most wins by a player in their first 100 games in the competition's history.

Chelsea 1-4 Brentford: Tuchel's men toppled

It has been a turbulent time for Chelsea off the field, but until now they had kept their on-field form in check.

Brentford had other ideas at Stamford Bridge as they came from 1-0 down to ease to their first victory in nine meetings against the Blues in all competitions since a 3-1 away win in the top-flight in February 1939.

Chelsea went ahead thanks to an Antonio Rudiger piledriver from 39.6 yards, which was Chelsea's longest range Premier League goal since Frank Lampard against Wigan in January 2007 (45.1 yards).

However, goals from Vitaly Janelt (two), Christian Eriksen and Yoane Wissa turned things around to make it just the second time Chelsea have conceded four or more goals in the Premier League at home to a newly promoted side (also under Thomas Tuchel in the 5-2 defeat against West Brom in April 2021).

Eriksen scored his first Premier League goal since December 2019. He has now been directly involved in eight goals (three goals, five assists) against Chelsea in the competition, with all three goals arriving at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United 1-1 Leicester City: Ronaldo-less Red Devils' top four hopes dealt another blow

It felt like an ominous sign for United when Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out of their game against Leicester through illness.

Ralf Rangnick's side ultimately rescued a draw having fallen behind to Kelechi Iheanacho's header, with Fred following in from a Bruno Fernandes shot, but it was still two points dropped in the race for the top four.

United have now won just one of their last six games in all competitions (D3 L2), after winning four and drawing three of the seven before that.

Fred is the seventh player to score on their 100th Premier League appearance for the Red Devils, and the first since Marcus Rashford did so, also against Leicester, in February 2019.

James Maddison laid on the assist for Iheanacho, and has now been directly involved in 21 goals in all competitions this season (13 goals, eight assists), four more than any other Leicester player; only in 2017-18 with Norwich has he been involved in more goals in a single campaign (26 – 15 goals, 11 assists).

Pep Guardiola has told Manchester City they must not expect Liverpool to drop any points before the end of the season – apart from when they visit the Etihad Stadium next weekend.

The City manager saw his side win 2-0 at Burnley on Saturday to return to the top of the Premier League, after being deposed for a couple of hours by Jurgen Klopp's Reds.

First-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan gave City the points at Turf Moor, with this their third successive 2-0 victory over Burnley.

"We got the points and there are eight games left... 24 [points]," said Guardiola.

"Hopefully Liverpool are going to lose against us, but apart from that I don't think they're going to drop points. We have to feel this pressure, live it and handle it. We have to win eight games, otherwise we will not be champions."

Guardiola's objective is to keep the minds of his players away from the prospects of winning trophies, and drilled to focus on the importance of the next game. For City, the next task now is a Champions League quarter-final first leg at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

"We have to feel the pressure," Guardiola said. "We have to concentrate on the Champions League, then we have five days to prepare for Liverpool."

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss added: "To be honest, we don't speak much about being contenders to be champions this season."

City were always expected to come out on top at Turf Moor against a relegation-threatened side, given they had won their past nine meetings with Burnley in all competitions by an aggregate score of 32-1.

Guardiola lamented City not bolstering their goal difference even further as they failed to put away any of their 12 shots in the second half, while he said Burnley's grass was long and made his team's task a challenge.

Raheem Sterling provided assists for both goals, and his performance pleased Guardiola, as did the fact the forward got to captain England against Ivory Coast during the international break.

"Raheem came back from the national team, with the boost of a goal and being the captain for England," Guardiola said. "We saw today how decisive he was with all the decisions, and he played with the assists from the right side, and showed speed and everything.

“I have the feeling he is arriving in a really good moment.”

It was a win that contained several City landmarks, with De Bruyne becoming the 10th City player to reach 200 Premier League appearances, with only Fernandinho (140) picking up more victories in his first 200 Premier League games for the club than the Belgian (139).

Gundogan's goal was his 34th in the Premier League for City, making him the outright highest-scoring German in the competition's history, overtaking former Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil.

Jurgen Klopp knows his team must continue winning to keep the Premier League title race alive after recording a 10th consecutive league victory against Watford.

The Reds briefly went top of the Premier League after the 2-0 victory at Anfield thanks to a first-half header from Diogo Jota and a late penalty from Fabinho.

Klopp acknowledged that any question about moving ahead of Manchester City by two points would be null and void after discovering Pep Guardiola's men had already taken the lead at Burnley before he had even started his post-game media conference. The reigning champions, who host Liverpool nextwent on to win 2-0 at Turf Moor.

Klopp told reporters: "No, you can't give an inch, but it's nothing to do with being on top of the table, I didn't think about that in the moment, I was just happy to win the game and having now 72 points.

"To keep it a title race we have to win our football games, otherwise it will be really tricky. And the next Premier League game obviously is a big one [against City], we do not hide from that. It's all good. But now we have a Champions League game to play, which is as important, and three days' time to prepare that. Then we go from there."

Liverpool were not at their best against the Hornets but secured the three points and another clean sheet, meaning they have now kept five consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League for a second time under Klopp, previously doing so in January 2020 (a run of seven).

Part of the backline today was Joe Gomez, making just his second league start of the season, and Klopp was pleased with the 24-year-old's efforts filling in at right back.

"He did really well and he could have set up a second goal in the second half, the cross was an incredible one as well.

"Defensively we don't have to talk, offensively some really good moments and some not-so-good moments because you see the positioning against a deep-sitting opponent, it is not so easy to find the right position in these moments and we are usually a bit more flexible, but it’s all fine.

"Joe is an outstanding football player and he will play a lot of games during his career, 100 per cent, he will play here a lot of games definitely. This season was tricky so far for him, but who knows how these things can change. He is obviously ready to use the opportunity when he gets it."

Gomez's accurate ball in the 22nd minute found the head of Jota, who grabbed his 20th goal of the campaign.

The Portugal international also had words of praise for Gomez, telling Liverpool's official website: "I spoke with Joey before the game, I said: 'You are going to get an assist today!' I remember against Nottingham [Forest] he had a few crosses that I couldn't get on the end of, but I was confident for today and fortunately for us it happened.

"It's the first time in my career that I reach 20 [goals], so just keep on going because we still have plenty to play for."

No player has scored the opening goal in more Premier League games this season than Jota, with Liverpool going on to win all six games in which he has opened the scoring for them.

Manchester City will go into next week's huge clash with Liverpool with a one-point lead at the Premier League summit after beating Burnley 2-0 to reclaim top spot.

Liverpool defeated Watford by the same scoreline in Saturday's early game to leapfrog the reigning champions, but the Reds' stay in first place was a short one.

Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan netted inside the opening 25 minutes and City sauntered to a 10th consecutive victory over Burnley.

Gabriel Jesus missed chances to add to City's lead, but there was never any danger of a Burnley comeback as City ensured a narrow advantage ahead of Liverpool's trip to the Etihad Stadium on April 10.

Where Jurgen Klopp's men laboured a little in their win against relegation-threatened opponents, City were in control almost from the outset – although Burnley had the first chance, when Josh Brownhill's third-minute header beat Ederson but dropped wide.

City led just over two minutes later, as Raheem Sterling cushioned Rodri's cross into the path of De Bruyne, who thumped high past Nick Pope.

The same two players combined again for City's second, playing a one-two on the right that set Sterling away to tee up a Gundogan shot, which earned a slight deflection off Kevin Long on its way past Pope.

Burnley enjoyed an improved spell following a succession of Pope saves at the start of the second half, but they failed to trouble Ederson in the same way and could have been in three behind when City substitute Jesus volleyed an awkward effort just over.

Jesus would go away wondering how he had not got on the scoresheet after Connor Roberts deflected another volley against the foot of the post, before the forward shot wide on the rebound.

Liverpool moved above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Watford in Saturday's early kick-off at Anfield.

The Reds knew that victory would see them leapfrog City, who face Burnley later in the day, for the first time since November 27 – even if only for a matter of hours.

Diogo Jota headed in from a Joe Gomez cross after 22 minutes to open the scoring and substitute Fabinho sealed a battling win with a penalty in the final minute.

Liverpool have now won 10 league games in a row ahead of next weekend's huge showdown with City, who are two points worse off with their game at Turf Moor to come.

Watford more than held their own in the early stages of the game and would have been in front if not for a good stop from Alisson to deny Juraj Kucka.

That proved a huge save as, a little over 30 seconds later, right-back Gomez – filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold – whipped in a cross for Jota to turn in from four yards. 

Jota nearly made it 15 league goals for the season shortly after, only to be denied by Ben Foster when he had Jordan Henderson screaming out for the pass alongside him.

Watford, in action for the first time in three weeks, continued to cause Liverpool problems as Joao Pedro fired wide in plenty of space once played in by Ismaila Sarr.

Jota saw a couple of headed chances come and go but Fabinho made certain of the win when thumping in a late penalty, awarded for Kucka dragging down Jota in the box.

What does it mean? Reds set up tantalising showdown

Liverpool were never at their best but got the job done to become the second club, after City, to record five different runs of 10 or more victories in the Premier League era.

The Reds have kept eight clean sheets during that incredible run and will head to the Etihad Stadium next weekend with wind in their sails.

They have now won 13 of their 14 home league games against Watford, who remain in the relegation zone and are running out of fixtures to drag themselves out of danger.

Gomez fills Trent void

No player has scored more opening goals in the Premier League this season than Jota (six), who had a brilliant Gomez cross from the right to thank for his latest headed goal.

That was Gomez's first assist in the top flight since December 2017 and means Liverpool have had 22 players involved in league goals this term, two more than any other side.

Salah's off day

Salah had previously been directly involved in 11 goals in seven league games against Watford, averaging a goal involvement every 57 minutes, but he was off the pace here.

He suffered World Cup qualifying heartbreak with Egypt in the week and that perhaps told as he failed to find the target from any of his three attempts.

What's next?

Liverpool travel to Benfica for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, while Watford host Leeds United on their return to league action in a week's time.

Jurgen Klopp is confident Trent Alexander-Arnold will be fit for Liverpool's potentially pivotal trip to Manchester City next weekend.

Reds right-back Alexander-Arnold sustained a hamstring injury last month that ruled him out of the FA Cup win at Nottingham Forest and England's two international friendlies.

Reports earlier this week claimed Alexander-Arnold was back in full training on Wednesday, suggesting he was likely to feature against Watford on Saturday.

Klopp dismissed those claims when addressing the media on Friday, claiming the 23-year-old only fully re-joined the rest of the squad earlier that day, only committing to it being "possible" that he plays on Saturday.

But any worries about the influential full-back missing the trip to City next Sunday – in what is being billed as a potential Premier League title decider – have seemingly been put to bed.

He told reporters: "Trent trained yesterday [Thursday] in parts and is in full training today.

"We will see what we do with that. Trent wanted to play for England, just to make sure everyone knows that, but he couldn't.

"The scans showed he could not go anywhere but sometimes injuries are not that serious and you are not out for five or six weeks, it's two weeks for Trent. It's tight for tomorrow, but possible.

"It depends what he does in team training. He was with the rehab and fitness department before, it was really intense what he did before with us, he should be fine. I'll make the decision."

Asked if will be ready for the midweek trip to Benfica in the Champions League, Klopp added: "I think so."

As such, Liverpool should be able to count on his services away to City in what is surely the Reds' biggest game of the season.

That will be a major boost given Alexander-Arnold's significant influence as a creative hub for Liverpool, even from right-back.

Only Alisson and Virgil van Dijk (both 2,430) have played more Premier League minutes for Liverpool than Alexander-Arnold (2,313) this term, while he leads the way for total chances created (77) in the squad.

Only Mohamed Salah (51) can better his 42 chances created in open play, though Alexander-Arnold's 11 assists is a Liverpool high.

In fact, his 10.9 expected assists (xA) shows that his goal creation comes from incredible creative reliability, rather than him benefiting from especially exceptional finishing – no one else in the Liverpool group has more than 5.6 xA this season.

Pep Guardiola has indicated Manchester City will have to cope without Ruben Dias for crucial games against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.

Centre-back Dias has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury in the FA Cup win at Peterborough United on March 1, and it was revealed he faced four to six weeks on the sidelines.

It appears the Portuguese defender will be available again closer to the six-week mark than Guardiola might have hoped, with City facing Atletico in the Champions League either side of a Premier League clash with title rivals Liverpool.

First comes a trip to Burnley on Saturday, with Dias a confirmed non-starter for that game.

"I don't know," Guardiola said, when asked how much longer Dias faced on the sidelines.

"The doctor said four to six weeks. I think we need 10 more days, two weeks more. Everything is going well."

The first leg of the Atletico quarter-final is coming up at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, with Liverpool visiting on Sunday, April 10, three days before Guardiola's men are back in European action in Madrid.

The timeframe suggests Dias may struggle to play any part in those three games, which are followed by an FA Cup semi-final, also against Liverpool, on April 16 at Wembley.

Although Dias has been an integral figure in Guardiola's first-team plans, his absence from four Premier League games this season has not had a majorly adverse impact to date.

Without him, City have won three times and drawn once in four games (average points: 2.5), while with Dias in the side they have won 19, drawn three and lost three (average points: 2.4) – though the sample sizes are significantly different.

City would have good cause to be cautiously optimistic of taking three points at Burnley without Dias involved, however.

After taking five points from their first 12 available against City in the Premier League (W1 D2 L1), Burnley have managed just one point from the subsequent 11 games between the teams (D1 L10).

Indeed, City have won their last nine meetings with Burnley in all competitions by a 32-1 aggregate score.

Jurgen Klopp is confident Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will deal with their international rivalry "in the right way" after Senegal beat Egypt to World Cup qualification.

The Reds boss also condemned fans for targeting Salah with laser pens as he skied Egypt's first spot-kick in their penalty shoot-out loss, with Senegal qualifying for Qatar after a 1-1 aggregate draw in the African play-offs.

Tuesday's defeat represents the second time this season that Salah has been bested by his club team-mate on spot-kicks after Senegal accomplished the same feat to win the Africa Cup of Nations in February.

Salah and Mane have hit a combined 32 Premier League goals this season, with the Egyptian scoring 20 and the Senegalese forward netting 12.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford, Klopp, while condemning the laser pens, expressed his pride for Mane's achievement and backed the duo to move on in the correct manner.

"I'm obviously really happy for Sadio that he could make it, and I'm obviously very disappointed for Mo," Klopp said.

"I don't think that the situation around the penalty and the laser was particularly cool, so I feel for him [Salah]. But I'm happy for Sadio as well, that's football. 

"It's different when two mates are in such a big game, playing against each other, but they are both top professionals, very emotional people as well, but I'm pretty sure they will deal with it in the right way. 

"There's no doubt about it, at the moment, Senegal are the best team in Africa, and Egypt did really well to take them twice to the wire, twice to a penalty shoot-out.

"Senegal have an extremely talented squad and Egypt did really well. I'm not sure they can see it like this exactly, but from my point of view they should.

"They got unlucky with the draw, against pretty much all other [African] teams, Egypt would have qualified for the World Cup."

No player has scored the opening goal in more different Premier League games this season than Mane (six), while Salah has scored the joint-most winning goals in the competition this term (also six).

Salah has now faced penalty heartache twice this calendar year with Egypt, but Klopp claims the 29-year-old's international disappointment will simply spur him on at club level. 

"There's no doubt about it, Mo wants to win everything he can," Klopp added. "That's why he was very disappointed about the fact they couldn't win the [AFCON] tournament or qualify for the World Cup.  

"That's different competitions, his desire will be bigger now, and he's a very smart person who sees the difference between all these things. 

"We didn't speak about it in detail, to be honest, but he knows that Senegal are a tough team. Mo was unlucky in moments, especially with the penalty shoot-out, but nobody has to worry about him."

Salah has been directly involved in 11 goals in just seven Premier League games against Watford, scoring nine and assisting two.

He averages a goal or assist every 57 minutes against the Hornets, the fourth-best ratio any player has against a club in Premier League history having played a minimum of 600 minutes against that opponent.

Jurgen Klopp made an impassioned plea to Liverpool supporters to create the best atmosphere possible during Saturday's clash with Watford to build momentum ahead of next weekend's crucial trip to Manchester City.

The Reds are back in action for Saturday's early kick-off, hosting Watford at Anfield with all eyes on the Premier League table ahead of a massive few weeks.

Liverpool head into that game a point behind leaders City having played the same number of games, meaning victory over Roy Hodgson's Hornets will put the Reds top, even if only temporarily with Pep Guardiola's men facing Burnley soon after.

The two title challengers' results on Saturday take on greater importance given they will go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium the following Sunday in a contest that could have a decisive say in where the Premier League title goes.

As such, Klopp is not taking any chances against Watford and is calling on fans to create the kind of raucous atmosphere that he seemingly does not usually associate with early kick-offs.

"It's a good example of how important it is to be top of the league at 14:30 on a Saturday when everyone is playing after… It's not too important," Klopp told reporters.

"Most of the time City play before us, and I couldn't care less what is after that. It's just how well we prepare for the 12:30 kick-off situation, because we face a Watford who won the last game, smells the chance to stay in the league.

"Obviously [Watford have] a very experienced manager with the way they set up, very well organised, a lot of individual talent. When you watch in the Premier League to analyse, you see they are good here, there, here, but then they don't have many points.

"It's just because of the quality in the league, but individual talent in the group is really good, that's what we need to be aware of.

"But what we need for this game is a sensational, the best 12:30 atmosphere ever. Not nervous, not tense… if you can’t shout and sing or whatever then stay at home and give your ticket to someone else, please.

"Really, we need all you have.

"The boys have come back from all over the world, played completely different systems and we have one session to make sure they are reminded on what we do.

"Then we go against a well organised Watford team and we need each voice for that."

It's matchday 31. The run-in requires points, and lots of them.

Of course, picking the players who earn surprise points is a big part of fantasy football, but at this point of the season, do you really want to be taking risks?

With that in mind, let Stats Perform lead you by the hand with Opta data as we pick four players who might just give you those precious extra points in the latest Premier League gameweek.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea v Brentford)

Edouard Mendy provides value, given Chelsea have won their previous five matches and will be facing a Brentford severely down on form, having won only two in 11 (against Norwich City and Burnley).

Despite the turbulent circumstances the Blues have faced of late, they powered into this past international window, with four clean sheets in their past five league games.

Among all Premier League goalkeepers with a minimum of 450 minutes played in 2022, only Alisson has kept more clean sheets and conceded fewer goals per 90 than Mendy.

BEN WHITE (Crystal Palace v Arsenal)

Aside from their loss at home to a Liverpool side that is rolling at present, Arsenal have been in otherwise solid form of late.

Clean sheets against Aston Villa and Leicester City sandwich the Liverpool defeat, and Ben White has been a pivotal figure in the Gunners' defensive output.

Among Premier League central defenders this season, Ben White has the second-highest tally of clean sheets with 13, behind only Virgil van Dijk's 17. The last time Arsenal kept more in a single campaign was in 2015-16 (18).

MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool v Watford)

This might be stating the obvious, but if you can afford Salah, bring him in and make him your captain straight away like he's an old professional playing Sunday League.

Mohamed Salah has been in intimidatingly great form this season, and in the thick of a Premier League title race, rotation from Jurgen Klopp coming out of an international break is unlikely.

The Egyptian attacker averages a goal or assist every 57 minutes against Watford, the fourth-best ratio one player has against a club in Premier League history, with a 600-minute cut-off.

With nine goals and two assists in seven games against the Hornets, only versus West Ham (12 goal involvements) has Salah been more productive since he arrived in Liverpool.

SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Newcastle United)

Despite Tottenham's somewhat volatile form in the New Year, Son Heung-min has been one of the few constants for Spurs since his return from a hamstring injury.

In the nine games since his February return, the 29-year-old has provided five goals and two assists. He has come to life under Antonio Conte in 2022, with his eight Premier League goal involvements this calendar year bettered by only Harry Kane (12).

Meanwhile, of the Premier League's top ten players in goal involvements, only Bruno Fernandes (29) and Kevin de Bruyne (23) have created more chances than Son (21), which is all the more impressive given he's not Spurs set-piece taker.

Thiago Alcantara is relishing the most "exciting" month of his career as Liverpool prepare for a crunch April schedule.

Jurgen Klopp's side face eight matches in April as they strive to pull off an unprecedented quadruple. 

The Reds are in the hunt for the Premier League title, the FA Cup and Champions League glory after lifting the EFL Cup.

They face leaders Manchester City in the Premier League and an FA Cup semi-final against Pep Guardiola's side following two Champions League quarter-final showdowns with Benfica.

Spain midfielder Thiago is excited about playing in so many matches with so much at stake.

"The other day I was talking with some friends about it," he told the club's official website.

"I never had, in the years that I have been involved in football, I never had a month so exciting like this with such important and exciting matches every three days. So it will be amazing.

"For sure it is exciting because you are competing against the best, in the best competitions as well, but also because it reminds you that we are in finals. 

"It looks like a World Cup, a European Cup, where every game is a final. With that we are in a one-mission mood and we are there."

Liverpool can go top of the table if they avoid defeat to Watford at Anfield on Sunday, with City travelling to Burnley later in the day.

Thiago does not believe that would give the Merseyside club a psychological boost in the title race.

"No, I don’t think so," he added. "I don’t think to see us on top before City plays would be a boost.

"No, it’s just that we are in a moment where every three points count and we are really glad to arrive at this position and fight and depend on us."

Premier League rivals Liverpool and Manchester United will face off in a pre-season friendly in Bangkok.

The game will be played at the Rajamangala Stadium on July 12, where Jurgen Klopp's men will battle the Red Devils for the Bangkok Century Cup.

It is the only pre-season fixture confirmed by Liverpool so far, but United announced they will also play Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, before facing more familiar opposition again in Crystal Palace at the same venue four days later.

The last time Liverpool and United played in a friendly was in 2018 and saw the Reds win 4-1 in front of more than 100,000 fans in Michigan as part of the International Champions Cup.

United will be hoping to have a new permanent manager installed by the time pre-season begins, with Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino among the favourites for the role, and the Liverpool fixture could be the first game for whomever is appointed.

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