Jurgen Klopp has promised his Liverpool players will show a reaction to their shock 3-0 Europa League home defeat to Atalanta when they host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday.

Liverpool’s hopes of ending Klopp’s reign with a showpiece European final in Dublin are in real jeopardy after Atalanta punished a lacklustre display to inflict the Reds’ first home defeat in 14 months.

The second leg of the quarter-final tie will be played in Bergamo next week, but before then Liverpool’s attention returns to the intense three-way fight at the top of the Premier League, and a match against Oliver Glasner’s Palace side.

Asked how he could ensure there would be no hangover from Thursday’s result going into Sunday, Klopp said: “First and foremost, I cannot ensure that, never could. But still, it’s the job I have to do.

“I don’t think it was a general low point but performance-wise it was a low point. But the really good thing about a really bad performance is you can play better. Start from there.

“This must feel bad and it does, so let the boys take it home, sleep on it and then come together and recover and go from there.

“On Saturday we will start preparing for Crystal Palace. We have to show a reaction, definitely, 100 per cent clear, but I cannot plan the reaction (straight) after the game…But we will show a reaction, I can promise.”

Klopp made six changes for Thursday’s game, with Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate, Kostas Tsimikas, Harvey Elliott, Cody Gakpo and Curtis Jones all coming into the side.

It was a first start since February for Jones, who has made two substitute appearances since injury, while Diogo Jota came off the bench for his first appearance of any kind in almost two months.

Long-term absentees Stefan Bajcetic and Trent Alexander-Arnold were among the substitutes, although Klopp said there was “no chance” of Alexander-Arnold ever playing and he had only been named in the squad because UEFA regulations allow him to select up to 23 players.

With no let up in the schedule and Liverpool still fighting on two fronts, Klopp is eager to get his squad back up to full fitness.

“There is no pressure (to manage the injured players’ returns), that’s just the situation,” he said.

“My job isn’t the easiest job in the world but it’s not the most difficult. But it’s about the players, you need to make sure you get them on the pitch and then it works out somehow.

“We’ve played different line-ups and played really good football and (on Thursday) we didn’t and that’s the reason we lost. That can be the headline. It didn’t work out and that’s absolutely fine and right.

“But we need them all and we need them all aggressive, fit, going for it, a bit angry and full of desire and not so much dealing with your own situation, ‘I need rhythm, I didn’t play for ages’ – try to avoid that.”

Jurgen Klopp was left to reflect on “a low point” for Liverpool after Atalanta inflicted one of the heaviest defeats of his reign in Thursday’s Europa League clash.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the Serie A side’s 3-0 romp compares to Klopp’s worst games with the club.

Low point

Gianluca Scamacca’s double and Mario Pasalic’s late strike gave Atalanta a 3-0 win in the first leg of their quarter-final, denting Klopp’s bid to add an eighth different trophy to his Anfield honours roll and end his reign with a showpiece final in Dublin.

Only Manchester City and Aston Villa have ever enjoyed bigger winning margins against Klopp’s Liverpool, across his 483 games since taking charge in October 2015.

City beat their perennial title rivals 5-0 on the way to the 2017-18 crown, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane scoring twice apiece, and then 4-0 in a futile attempt to stop Klopp’s men romping to their Covid-delayed 2019-20 win.

Villa beat a much-changed Liverpool side 5-0 in the Carabao Cup in December 2019 – a defence of Ki-Jana Hoever, Tony Gallacher, Sepp van den Berg and Morgan Boyes powerless to prevent Jonathan Kodjia scoring his only two goals of that season.

More memorably, Ollie Watkins’ hat-trick and a Jack Grealish brace set up a 7-2 league triumph against Klopp’s defending champions in October 2020.

Anfield nightmare

The common thread between those four hammerings is that they all took place away from Anfield, meaning Gian Piero Gasperini’s side inflicted a record-equalling home defeat on Klopp with Liverpool.

It is the 11th time his side have lost by three goals – a sixth 3-0, to go with four 4-1s and a 5-2 – but only the third at home.

City triumphed 4-1 in 2021, Ilkay Gundogan scoring twice, while last season’s Champions League challenge was effectively ended by that 5-2 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid. Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool an early 2-0 lead but Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema scored twice apiece in Real’s emphatic comeback.

City are also among the teams to inflict three-goal away defeats on Klopp’s side, a list that curiously includes Watford on two separate occasions along with Tottenham, Brighton and Wolves in the Premier League and Barcelona and Napoli in the Champions League.

Liverpool’s heaviest ever home defeat is only 6-0, against Sunderland in the First Division in April 1930.

Jurgen Klopp called Thursday’s 3-0 home defeat to Atalanta a “low point” in Liverpool’s season as their Europa League hopes were left hanging by a thread.

Liverpool looked flat throughout the quarter-final first leg and ended the night perhaps fortunate Atalanta had not taken one of the many late chances they had to add to a lead given to them by Gianluca Scamacca’s brace and a late Mario Pasalic goal.

Harvey Elliott hit the post in the first half and Mo Salah had a goal ruled out for offside in the second, but Liverpool lacked the spark needed to beat a well-organised Atalanta side, who will be confident of finishing the job next Thursday in Bergamo.

Before Klopp can think about that match, he must lift his players for Sunday’s visit of Crystal Palace in the tight battle at the top of the Premier League table.

“It was a really bad game, oh my God,” Klopp said after Liverpool’s first home defeat in nearly 14 months.

“We started well, really well and then didn’t continue. They broke, they scored and we just lost the plot a little bit. We were here and there in midfield, I didn’t recognise it.

“It was really strange but in football terms it was tactical discipline. There was a big chance for Darwin (Nunez) and then it was unlucky with Harvey, but they scored and we kept playing into their hands.

“We played a bad game and we we deserved to lose. We must feel that now but we have exactly this night to feel bad about it and then we have to build up for Palace.”

Klopp made six changes to his side following Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United, but his bid to freshen up the side failed, and their chances of ending the German’s reign with a showpiece final in Dublin have taken a huge hit.

“I believe it’s not the moment to talk about that,” Klopp said when asked if the tie was still alive. “I’m not in the mood to think about the game in a week’s time when we have another in between.

“Definitely we have to try, we want to win the game but now is not the moment to have a big mouth. We have to play a really good game.

“Where we are, this is probably a low point for us performance-wise so it should be possible to play a little bit better and we can play a lot better. But first and foremost it’s about Sunday now.”

The final whistle brought huge celebrations for Atalanta and their travelling fans. Gian Piero Gasperini said he wanted to enjoy the moment, but warned the job is only half done.

“Tonight was amazing,” he said through a translator. “I didn’t make any changes until 10 minutes to go and the only one change because it is hard to touch something about a team that held until the 90th minute in the best way.

“Such a victory, it’s OK to celebrate but we all know we ill have to conquer everything in seven days’ time in Bergamo because Liverpool is a really strong team and they can score goals quickly.

“We will have to play another very precise game in every aspect and repeat tonight’s game because everything remains to be played. But our advantage makes us hope for the best.”

Liverpool endured a humbling night after Atalanta left Anfield with a 3-0 victory that places the Serie A side on the brink of qualifying for the Europa League semi-finals.

Former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca struck in each half, the second goal made possible by a superb pass from Charles De Ketelaere, before Mario Pasalic added the third in the 84th minute.

Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League title challengers were completely outplayed by opponents positioned sixth in their domestic league and as a result have a mountain to climb in the second leg of their last eight tie.

West Ham were breached by two late goals as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat in their first leg at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers had defended heroically for 83 minutes before goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was finally beaten by substitute Jonas Hoffman.

The second arrived in stoppage time when a second sub, Victor Boniface, headed home Hofmann’s cross to leave West Ham’s hopes of a third consecutive European semi-final looking slim.

Benfica took a step towards the reaching the last four after dispatching Marseille 2-1 in Lisbon through goals by Rafa Silva and Angel Di Maria.

The Portuguese champions were on target either side of the interval with David Neres involved in both strikes before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted what could be an important away goal with 23 minutes remaining.

Gianluca Mancini’s early goal was all that separated AC Milan and Roma in their all-Serie A tie at the San Siro.

Milan controlled most of the game but did not recover from Mancini’s effort with Olivier Giroud directing a short-range target on to the crossbar in the closing moments.

Aston Villa clawed a slender advantage from their Europa Conference League quarter-final against Lille after emerging with a 2-1 first-leg win at Villa Park.

Goals in either half from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn saw Villa lead their first European last-eight tie since 1998 and give boss Unai Emery victory in his 1,000th match as a manager.

Bafode Diakite’s late header gave the French side a lifeline just as it looked like they would head home frustrated by Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who had made a string of big saves.

Lacklustre Liverpool were stunned 3-0 by Atalanta in a Europa League quarter-final collapse that could prove to be Jurgen Klopp’s last European night at Anfield.

This competition offers the chance to bring the curtain down on his German’s reign with a European trophy on May 22, but their hopes of making the Dublin showpiece are in jeopardy.

Liverpool lacked creativity and coherence in the first leg of a quarter-final that Atalanta are in complete control of heading back to Bergamo thanks to Gianluca Scamacca’s brace and a late Mario Pasalic goal.

It represented the Reds’ first Anfield loss since falling to Real Madrid last February and compounded the Premier League hopefuls’ potentially costly 2-2 draw at bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Harvey Elliott had hit the woodwork before Scamacca’s first-half shot squirmed past Caoimhin Kelleher, who was beaten again by the former West Ham striker after Liverpool had started the second half brightly.

Livid Klopp bellowed and waved his arms as he called on fans to lift the flat Anfield atmosphere, but this was Atalanta’s night and Pasalic wrapped up an unforgettable triumph for the visitors.

The warning signs had been there for Liverpool from the start.

Elliott appeared to be fouled but Atalanta were allowed to continue forward in the third minute, with the ball eventually falling for Pasalic to take a shot from six yards that Kelleher saved with his face.

Liverpool reacted with Darwin Nunez bursting through to test Juan Musso before Alexis Mac Allister lashed over as an open start continued.

Atalanta looked up for the fight, producing some lovely free-flowing moves, but the Reds were finding gaps, with Nunez scooping wide poorly when slipped through.

A lull in play was followed by a stunning Elliott effort from wide on the right of the box, with his curling strike clipping the underside of the bar and hitting the far post.

A similar, albeit more wayward, attempt by Curtis Jones followed before Atalanta silenced Anfield in the 38th minute.

Davide Zappacosta, the marauding former Chelsea defender, sent in a low cross for Scamacca to hit a first-time shot that squirmed past Kelleher in front of the flagless Kop.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s men kept up the pressure before half-time and should have grabbed a second in stoppage time.

Marten de Roon won possession at the halfway line, leading to unmarshalled Teun Koopmeiners being sent through to be blocked by onrushing Kelleher.

There were some groans at the break, from which Liverpool returned with Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson and Dominik Szoboszlai.

The introductions brought an initial improvement and, after Virgil van Dijk headed over from a corner, Salah was blocked by De Roon before then being stopped by Musso.

Nunez lifted over and saw an unorthodox header caught as Liverpool continued to knock at the door, only to be hit by Atalanta again in the 61st minute.

An all too simple pass down the right to Charles De Ketelaere caught Liverpool napping, with Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez leaving Scamacca free in the middle to score with a measured first-time finish.

Atalanta were nearly celebrating a third just four minutes later but Koopmeiners could only strike across the face of goal.

Liverpool looked lost as they tried to pull one back, with their celebrations at reducing the deficit in the 79th minute shortlived as Salah strayed offside from Robertson’s pass.

Just four minutes later the mood darkened further as Szoboszlai’s mistake allowed Atalanta to break, with Scamacca slipping in Ederson to see a shot saved and Pasalic follow up in front of the away fans, leaving Liverpool a mountain to climb.

Sporting Lisbon head coach Ruben Amorim has denied reaching a verbal agreement with Liverpool to succeed Jurgen Klopp as manager at Anfield.

Reports suggested the 39-year-old is in talks with the Premier League club with a view to taking over in the summer.

Amorim emphatically dismissed the speculation as he prepares for his side’s Primeira Liga match at Gil Vicente on Friday evening.

“This is the last time I am going to talk about my future,” he told a press conference.

“There was no interview and certainly no agreement.

“The only thing we all want here is to be champions with Sporting, nothing will change.

“I’m the Sporting coach and there was no interview or agreement with any club. I’m just focused, as always, on representing my club.”

Liverpool manager Klopp announced in January that he will leave Merseyside at the end of the season after almost nine years in the role.

Former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso was linked with the job before committing his future to Bayer Leverkusen, while Amorim and Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi also emerged as contenders.

Ex-Portugal midfielder Amorim is on course to lead Sporting to the second domestic title of his tenure after joining from divisional rivals Braga in 2020.

Xabi Alonso insists Bayer Levekusen’s focus is solely on West Ham on Thursday night despite a potentially historic weekend on the horizon.

Leverkusen, unbeaten in all 41 of their matches this season, look set to wrap up a first Bundesliga title on Saturday or Sunday.

All they need to do is match Bayern Munich’s result to be confirmed as champions.

Should Bayern lose to Cologne then Leverkusen will be crowned as title winners without having to kick a ball.

Either way, Alonso’s side will claim the title if they beat Werder Bremen at home on Sunday afternoon.

But Leverkusen are still in the hunt for a treble – they are already in the German Cup final – and first up is the Europa League quarter-final first leg against the Hammers.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Alonso said: “We know what West Ham can do. They have experience in Europe, last season they were champions of the Conference League.

“We want to go further and starting tomorrow and then next week in London, we have to play to our own game. We are ready.”

Former Liverpool midfielder Alonso was reportedly among the contenders to replace Jurgen Klopp as Anfield boss.

But the 42-year-old Spaniard has opted to stay at the BayArena, a decision which has thrilled the players according to defender Jeremie Frimpong.

“Everyone has a good feeling,” he said. “We love the coach and we are happy, you see it on the pitch. We simply have this great connection.”

Leverkusen reached the semi-finals of the same competition last season, but were edged out 1-0 on aggregate by Roma.

“When we lost last season in the Europa League semi-final it was difficult, but this season is different, we don’t like losing,” added Frimpong.

“It’s the quarter-finals so we are obviously excited for tomorrow. It’s what football is about, playing against the top teams so we are looking forward to it.”

West Ham have a major doubt over top scorer Jarrod Bowen for the match in Germany, but Leverkusen have also been dealt an injury blow in attack.

They will have to manage without striker Adam Hlozek, who injured his left ankle in the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 win away to Union Berlin.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has not ruled out Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker being involved in Liverpool’s Europa League quarter-final against Atalanta on Thursday.

All three have been sidelined by injury since February but have returned to training and look set to contribute to Liverpool’s push for silverware over the closing weeks of the season.

Teenage midfielder Stefan Bajcetic, who has been out since September, is also back in training but is likely to have to wait a little longer for a first-team return.

“Obviously we didn’t rush it with the boys,” said Klopp. “That means they did a lot of training by themselves. Diogo and Trent worked as a group since two, three weeks and could do really proper training. It was very good yesterday.

“Stefan is different a little bit because he was out for much longer but is now training with us for longer as well. I think after the long spell he had without playing football it makes sense that we might give him a game in the under-21s and then let’s see how he deals with that.

“That’s not the plan with the other three guys. They are now back in training and now we have to see how we involve them, how we use them. That we need them is clear, but we need them in the best possible shape and we want to give them a kind of rhythm.

“It’s always a challenge to reintegrate the guys but, with the quality they have, obviously it should be a bit easier and we will use them in the next days and weeks. What it means for tomorrow, I didn’t make a decision yet.”

Liverpool’s injury problems have led to increased opportunities for their young players, many of whom have advanced their causes for further inclusion.

Klopp welcomed the availability of a bigger squad at a very busy time of the season, but he could be getting a knock on the door from 21-year-old midfielder Harvey Elliott if he does not get chances in the starting line-up.

“I want to be the player walking out, rather than coming on,” said Elliott. “That doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for coming on the pitch, I’m very grateful for every opportunity that I get in a Liverpool shirt, but for me it’s about kicking on for myself and cementing my spot in the team.

“I’m not a kid any more, I’m a man, I’m growing up quickly, I feel like I need to take responsibilities into my own hands. If that means knocking on the gaffer’s door, it’s going to have to happen. But, at the same time, I do need to wait for my opportunities, I do need to be patient.”

Atalanta sit sixth in the Serie A table and put out Sporting Lisbon in the previous round but have won only two of their last nine matches.

Pep Guardiola described playing the Bergamo-based side as like going to the dentist in 2019, and long-serving manager Gian Piero Gasperini remains in charge.

“There are now only great teams left in the competition,” said Klopp. “It’s really outstanding and we know what Atalanta are all about.

“Gasperini is doing an incredible job there for years and years and it’s difficult to play against Italian teams, always was. Tactically they’re super disciplined and super dangerous in a lot of areas, so we have to be at our best to get into the next round over these two legs.”

There will be no flags on the Kop on Thursday night as fans stage a protest against ticket price increases next season.

Klopp admitted to mixed feelings on the issue, saying: “I understand the concerns and the discussion definitely. It’s a tricky one from my point of view obviously to say.

“We want to have the people in the stadium, we want to make it available for everybody. There’s a lot of good things the club is doing, but I understand 100 per cent where the supporters are coming from and I’m pretty sure they will find a solution.

“What we should make sure is that nothing gets between us and the supporters.”

Fans have criticised UEFA’s decision to allocate a “paltry” 50 per cent of tickets for the Europa League final in Dublin to supporters of the two teams involved.

The match in the Irish capital could yet be an all-English affair, with quarter-finalists Liverpool and West Ham on opposite sides of the draw.

Fans’ group Football Supporters Europe welcomed the fact that the 58 per cent allocation to the Champions League finalists at Wembley this summer was the highest in a decade, but called for a rethink for the continent’s second-tier competition finale on May 22.

“Football Supporters Europe (FSE) today shares its serious concern that the finalists’ allocations at the 2024 Europa League Final in Dublin will reach just 50% of the stadium’s total capacity on the day,” a statement from the group read.

“Further, FSE calls on UEFA and the local organisers to do right by the supporters and increase these allocations.

“A paltry 50 per cent of capacity for Europa League finalist clubs is, simply, not good enough and falls well short of FSE’s demand to provide at least 66 per cent of tickets for all European finals to supporters of the teams involved. Fans of competing teams need to be given clear priority over public sale options.

“Based on previous experiences, a higher allocation of tickets for general sale will significantly fuel black market ticket activity, exploiting fans’ loyalty in the process.”

UEFA confirmed on Tuesday morning that each of the finalists for the Europa League will receive 12,000 tickets for the match, where capacity at the Aviva Stadium will be 48,000.

The tickets allocated to the fans of the finalists will be the cheapest on offer at 40 euros (just over £34) each, with general sale tickets starting at 65 euros (£55.70) each.

The two teams reaching the Champions League final will receive 25,000 tickets each for Wembley, with those tickets also the cheapest available at £60.

UEFA has been approached for a response to FSE’s statement.

UEFA’s general secretary Theodore Theodoridis admitted last month that staging the Europa League final in Dublin could prove “extremely challenging” and revealed the 82,000-capacity Croke Park had been reserved as a potential fan zone.

At the time he made those comments, there was still the possibility of a final between Liverpool and Rangers, two clubs with large followings on the island of Ireland, but the Scottish side were knocked out in the last 16 by Benfica.

However, a number of challenging scenarios remain, not least an all-Premier League encounter in what would be Jurgen Klopp’s final match as Liverpool boss should the Reds make it.

Erik ten Hag has urged his Manchester United players to “bring big games over the line” ahead of their Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.

United have dropped five points from winning positions in their last two games, with the most recent missed opportunity coming against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Cole Palmer scored twice deep in second half added-time as the Blues stole all three points in a dramatic 4-3 victory over ten Hag’s outfit.

Mason Mount thought he had found the winner with his strike in the sixth minute of stoppage time against Brentford, but Kristoffer Ajer equalised three minutes later in a 1-1 draw last Saturday at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Ten Hag admitted his side need to start getting over the line when leading games, seeking inspiration from previous victories over the league’s best.

“We can play to a very high standard. We can compete with the best and beat the best in the Premier League and when you can do that, you can also do it across Europe,” he said.

“We need to learn how to bring big games over the line, Saturday was an example.

“We have to step up, make better decisions individually and as a team.”

Thursday’s defeat in west London ended an unbeaten Premier League run against Chelsea which started in 2017.

Ten Hag wants his players to use the defeat as fuel going into their clash against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

He added: “We will see on Sunday (how to beat Liverpool).

“But I have to say first I have to deal with this, but we can’t deal with this long. We have to recover very quick. We have to turn this around.

“We will be in a positive mood. We will be looking forward. We have to take energy but we will be mad, angry. From anger you can take a lot of energy and that is how we have to do it.”

Marcus Rashford came off the bench at Stamford Bridge, but failed to have an impact on the night.

Ten Hag revealed the forward is as motivated as ever to help the team.

He said: “I think lately his form is progressing and so the time will always be right. I think he has a big motivation because he wants to be successful with us.

“He wants to score goals, but he wants to win trophies and contribute and we still have a chance in the FA Cup.

“He wants to fight for a Champions League spot and the Euros are coming so I will say his motivation should be high.

“And the form, that is a moment and he can change the momentum always. Before Brentford, he scored three goals in three games.”

Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo believes their strength in depth is bolstering the club’s Premier League title bid.

The Netherlands international came off the bench for the 19th time in 44 appearances to score his 14th goal in Thursday’s victory over Sheffield United.

This season Jurgen Klopp’s substitutes have been involved in 24 Premier League goals (12 goals, 12 assists) which equals Manchester City’s record from 2011-12, with Gakpo combining with fellow substitute Andy Robertson for the third goal against the Blades.

It has also contributed to Liverpool winning 26 points from losing positions and Gakpo, the team’s third-highest scorer this season, attributes that to the attitude within the squad.

“That’s what this team is all about. We have so much quality, and the manager can only start 11,” he told the club’s website.

“Everybody is eager to perform well for himself, for the team and for the fans when they are coming on.

“At the beginning of the season everyone had the belief that, ‘OK, I’m not starting today but when I come on, you never know what is going to happen, and if I put all of my energy out there then beautiful things can happen’.”

With just eight league matches remaining the focus is getting sharper with every week but Gakpo said no-one was thinking ahead as that leads to scrambled thinking.

“Obviously we are aware of the situation but we just try to approach every game and stay calm,” he added.

“Obviously your mind can go all over the place if you are thinking about the end of the season, but we just have to take it game by game.

“We are doing it pretty well at the moment and we just need to stay calm and stay focused.”

The team return to Old Trafford on Sunday, where only three weeks ago they lost a pulsating FA Cup quarter-final 4-3 after Manchester United scored a winner in the final minute of extra time.

It was only the third domestic defeat of the campaign but losing to their arch-rivals, ending the hope of an unprecedented quadruple, was painful.

“Of course, we were very disappointed. Losing is never good. Especially the way we lost that day, it hurt for 24 hours after the game,” said Gakpo’s international captain Virgil van Dijk.

“We have to do better against them. They started the game well, had the crowd behind them and that gave them a push. Conceding the goals was disappointing.

 

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“We controlled the game but kept them alive. They made use of it in the best way possible. That’s credit to them but we are going there on Sunday to turn it around and make sure we get the three points.

“We want to win every game and that’s the focus anyway at Liverpool. We know how much this match means and how big it is for the outside world but we are in a phase where we can’t drop points and lose points.

“It never matters what happened the game before results-wise. It is on its own. We have one goal: go there and try to win the game, we will give everything.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Alexis Mac Allister’s “wonder goal” for turning around their fortunes in the 3-1 win over Sheffield United.

After Conor Bradley’s own goal early in the second half cancelled out Darwin Nunez’s 17th-minute opener – courtesy of an error by Blades goalkeeper Ivo Grbic – the tension at Anfield increased as a return to the top of the Premier League came into doubt.

However, Mac Allister, Liverpool’s best player over the last month, smashed home a brilliant strike reminiscent of Steven Gerrard’s winner against Olympiacos in 2004 to ease the nerves and Cody Gakpo added a late third.

“We needed Macca’s wonder goal to turn it around,” said Klopp on the Argentina international, who is the first Reds midfielder to score or assist a goal in six consecutive appearances in all competitions since Gerrard in January 2013.

“The third goal was like it should have been before. This kind of moment, Robbo (Andy Robertson) at full speed, wonderful cross, sensational header.”

Mac Allister started the game back as the defensive midfielder, a role he performed for most of the first half of the season, as Wataru Endo was rested, but moved further forward in the second half.

Klopp has fielded questions about the World Cup winner’s best position throughout the campaign but admits he is better in a more advanced position.

“I understand 100 percent that (question) is coming but he played a good game already, it is not him in the wrong position,” added the Reds boss.

“You can play that with a footballing six but all the movements around were not as they should be. You talk is he better as an eight or a six – his defensive part is really good but people were doubting can he be this kind of defensive player.

“I prefer him in an eight but we are not playing in dreamland, we had a problem in the position and it worked out.

“We changed (in the game) and then changed back to a double-six. I don’t know if he scored in the double six but the impact he can have is massive.”

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admits once they had squandered a couple of good early chances the Premier League’s bottom side were always up against it but did not think it would have made that much difference.

“I am not sure scoring early against Liverpool is the greatest of ideas,” he said.

“We knew we would have to give up the ball and be structured and organised and connected. We knew we would have to suffer, stay in the game, take the game deep.

“We were against the best press in the division and hopefully ride your luck and things fall for you, hopefully it becomes the night you get something.

“Yet again Liverpool are finding goals late on. From our point of view it is quite a difficult thing to take.

“You want the players to give everything they have got but physically the gap, it hurts, it cost us tonight.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Alexis Mac Allister’s “wonder goal” for turning around their fortunes in the 3-1 win over Sheffield United.

After Conor Bradley’s own goal early in the second half cancelled out Darwin Nunez’s 17th-minute opener – courtesy of an error by Blades goalkeeper Ivo Grbic – the tension at Anfield increased as a return to the top of the Premier League came into doubt.

However, Mac Allister, Liverpool’s best player over the last month, smashed home a brilliant strike reminiscent of Steven Gerrard’s winner against Olympiacos in 2004 to ease the nerves and Cody Gakpo added a late third.

“We needed Macca’s wonder goal to turn it around,” said Klopp on the Argentina international, who is the first Reds midfielder to score or assist a goal in six consecutive appearances in all competitions since Gerrard in January 2013.

“The third goal was like it should have been before. This kind of moment, Robbo (Andy Robertson) at full speed, wonderful cross, sensational header.”

Mac Allister started the game back as the defensive midfielder, a role he performed for most of the first half of the season, as Wataru Endo was rested, but moved further forward in the second half.

Klopp has fielded questions about the World Cup winner’s best position throughout the campaign but admits he is better in a more advanced position.

“I understand 100 percent that (question) is coming but he played a good game already, it is not him in the wrong position,” added the Reds boss.

“You can play that with a footballing six but all the movements around were not as they should be. You talk is he better as an eight or a six – his defensive part is really good but people were doubting can he be this kind of defensive player.

“I prefer him in an eight but we are not playing in dreamland, We had a problem in the position and it worked out.

“We changed (in the game) and then changed back to a double-six. I don’t know if he scored in the double six but the impact he can have is massive.”

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admits once they had squandered a couple of good early chances the Premier League’s bottom side were always up against it but did not think it would have made that much difference.

“I am not sure scoring early against Liverpool is the greatest of ideas,” he said.

“We knew we would have to give up the ball and be structured and organised and connected. We knew we would have to suffer, stay in the game, take the game deep.

“We were against the best press in the division and hopefully ride your luck and things fall for you, hopefully it becomes the night you get something.

“Yet again Liverpool are finding goals late on. From our point of view it is quite a difficult thing to take.

“You want the players to give everything they have got but physically the gap, it hurts, it cost us tonight.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp does not care that his side are now considered favourites to win the Premier League.

Sunday’s win over Brighton, combined with Manchester City and Arsenal’s goalless draw, elevated the Reds back to the top of the table with nine matches to go.

But Klopp is well aware, with a round of midweek fixtures followed closely by games at the weekend, the situation can change in an instant.

“It is nothing we are obviously aware of. The situation is, for us, Sheffield United, and not who is the favourite,” he said ahead of Thursday’s home game against the rock-bottom Blades.

“I am pretty sure when we lost at Arsenal (on February 4) we were not favourites after that – maybe rightly so – but I don’t know and I don’t care.

“One of the most important things to get through this period is to ignore the outside ‘mess’ as it goes up and down and is emotional.

“We have to be professional – be emotional but in the right way – and be the best version of ourselves, play the best football we can play and then let’s see what the outcome is.

“There are no guarantees, there are just opportunities. The clearer the opportunity, the more likely you can take it.”

Liverpool are the last of the title chasers to play, with City and Arsenal’s matches on Wednesday, but Klopp will not be tuning in to see how their rivals get on.

“I didn’t even know they played (on Wednesday night),” he added. “I expect them always to win.

“I told you one story, years ago, I watched a game and wanted Leicester to win (against Manchester City in 2019) and it didn’t happen.

“That was the last time that I did that. That’s when you learn from the past. When they play, my heart-rate doesn’t go up.

“We need to get our points in, win our football games.”

If Liverpool are favourites for the title they are even shorter odds to dispatch a Blades side which have conceded 77 goals in 29 matches and have a goal difference of minus 50 after managing just three wins, just one away from home, all season.

It looks like an easy task against a team who have not kept a clean sheet in four months, with Sunday’s visit to Old Trafford – where only three weeks ago Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup – the bigger hurdle.

However, Klopp will not be taking the visitors lightly.

“If I would think now about Manchester United, our people (fans) would have a right to think I am already too long in the chair,” he said.

“It makes no sense. You cannot win football games not respecting the opponent. I have no chance of influencing the Manchester United game at the moment. We will play players who are available.

“We want to use them, for example Curtis (Jones) is back but it doesn’t mean he can play 90 minutes. Other players might need rhythm because we need them. How can we do that?

“It has nothing to do with the Manchester United game, Sheffield United deserve our full respect and they will get it.”

Left-back Andy Robertson is also available after missing Sunday with an injury sustained on Scotland duty.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted the Premier League title race is “not in our hands” after a goalless draw against Arsenal on Sunday.

With just nine games left in the season, City sit one point behind Arsenal and three adrift of leaders Liverpool, who Guardiola conferred as favourites to end his side’s streak of three successive titles.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the title race is shaping up.

What happened over the weekend?

Liverpool moved into pole position as they bid to give Jurgen Klopp the perfect send-off by coming from a goal behind to beat Brighton 2-1.

The Merseysiders were boosted a few hours later by a bore draw at the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal were at the summit prior to the latest round of fixtures but would have been the happier of the two teams after nullifying City’s attackers.

Guardiola said afterwards: “Always who is first is favourite. The second favourite is Arsenal and we are third.”

Was Guardiola correct?

Maybe, although that was far from him waving the white flag in their attempt at a historic fourth league title in a row – Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have also had a hat-trick of successive crowns but no team has yet done a quadruple.

City will likely have to be close to perfect if they are to pip Liverpool and Arsenal but they have a history of being strong finishers.

At the same stage last season, City were five points adrift of Arsenal but managed to reel them in then overtake them.

Are there any differences between then and now?

Last season, City still had Arsenal to play and triumphed 4-1 at home before the Gunners fell away at the business end.

This time, City can win all nine remaining fixtures and still lose out because they have already played Liverpool and Arsenal twice.

Liverpool have been the biggest thorn in City’s side in the Guardiola era, relegating them to second spot in 2019-20, remarkably their only slip-up in six seasons.

So all Liverpool have to do is win their remaining games?

It would be a major surprise if it turned out simple as that – and that is not a slur on Liverpool’s ability to hold their nerve as they have proved their mettle time and again under Klopp.

But the pressure will continue to build and there are a few tricky fixtures, including visits to north-west rivals Manchester United on Sunday and Everton on April 24.

City next face Villa – the last side to beat them – on Wednesday while both Guardiola’s team and Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal still have to go to Tottenham between now and the end of the campaign.

All three teams are still in the hunt for European crowns, too – City and Arsenal in the Champions League and Liverpool in the Europa League – and this may be a distracting factor as well.

So there are still plenty of twists and turns to come, then?

In all likelihood, yes.

Liverpool have the edge but they have never had the threat of City breathing down their necks – the Reds were out of sight in 2020 when the crunch time came.

City have proved they enjoy being the hunters, even if they have not been firing on all cylinders recently, and Guardiola will surely not want Klopp to have the last laugh in their rivalry.

Arsenal cannot be discounted either and look a better team than the one that subsided last season, as evidenced by Sunday’s stalemate after a thrashing by City 12 months ago.

In short, a dramatic finale looms.

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