Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits the team was probably guilty of trying too hard to compensate for the absence of a host of star players in the 4-1 victory over Luton.

Forwards Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah were the latest added to an absentee list, which had grown to 11 senior players and left manager Jurgen Klopp short of options, certainly of match-winners, as his bench comprised three defenders and four academy players.

The likes of Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo, and to a lesser extent Luis Diaz, all struggled up front in the first half, but four goals in an impressive second-half comeback after going behind in the 12th minute re-established a four-point advantage at the top of the Premier League.

Klopp’s side have won now 22 points from losing positions this season, more than any other team.

“First half with the very first chance (for Diaz) we could have changed the game, but we were a bit rushed in the final third,” said Van Dijk.

“Obviously the way we turned it around was credit to the boys.

“Staying calm is the most difficult thing to do, especially in the situation where we are at; everyone wants to show themselves and play their best game ever, and you have to try to stay calm and find the right solution.

“The first half was a bit rushed and that’s why we struggled a little bit in that sense. Being 1-0 down is never nice, but the way we bounced back is good to see.”

Elliott, on his 100th appearance, scored the team’s 100th goal of the season with the late fourth to end his night on a high after coming in for some vociferous criticism from the crowd.

However, Klopp – who remonstrated with a fan who appeared to target Elliott after yet another pass went astray in the first half – defended the 20-year-old.

“Top performance. And Harvey is a top player; 100 games for Liverpool FC in not the worst period of the club’s history, where you cannot afford players who (just) play the position, that’s a proper sign,” he added.

“He had not a great first half. There was a pass with Lucho (Diaz); I saw he wants to play the pass instead of maybe he can go in a one-on-one situation.

“But the reaction in the second half is the main difference, that’s the thing. That made this performance the performance and I’m so happy for him.

“I don’t lose patience in these moments, I know that it’s a challenge for young boys.

“When everything is great, they are super talents. When things don’t go well, you have to show up. And that’s what he’s learning more and more.

“And with 100 games under his belt, we all know he will definitely play another 100, 200, 300 – if you ask him, 500 – for this club.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jurgen Klopp was delighted his Liverpool side matched Fulham’s desire to reach the Carabao Cup final after the Reds secured their place at Wembley with a spirited 1-1 second-leg draw at Craven Cottage.

Luis Diaz put the Reds in the driving seat in the first half and despite Issa Diop’s 76th minute equaliser giving Fulham late hope, Liverpool sealed a 3-2 aggregate win after their 2-1 victory at Anfield earlier this month.

Klopp lauded his side’s spirit in the late stages as they now ready themselves for a repeat of the 2022 final against Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea.

“We were just ready for this game and that’s the most important thing. I saw Marco Silva’s press conference and we know what this game meant to them and so I told the boys we have to also show it,” Klopp said.

“We had to show it to the outside world that we wanted it as much as them and I saw that.

“We had to get over the line and we did. It feels great, we are really happy, the boys wanted it and they got it and so we have 10 games to play before the final in four weeks or so. We are looking forward to Wembley.”

Liverpool defeated Chelsea in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals two years ago and Klopp believes the Blues will be motivated to get their revenge.

He added: “It will be a big one but we all know it’s against Chelsea. They will want to put history right after playing us twice two years ago.”

Diaz was quick to react and beat Timothy Castagne in the air before a deflected strike got past Bernd Leno at his near post.

The Liverpool boss talked up the winger’s impact after his standout performance on the night.

Klopp said: “He was very good. He’s a fantastic player and I have absolutely no criticism of him but I wish he set up the second and scored the third.

“The speed and the power he can generate, the technique and the combination of that is outstanding so I’m really happy.”

Fulham dug deep to try and force the game into extra-time but their earlier missed opportunities frustrated Silva come full time.

Silva believes Liverpool’s experience in big games was the difference maker between the two sides.

He said: “Tonight I felt like they were much calmer than us and to them it was just another game. With most of our players it is new to them to play in a semi-final of this competition and it is what it is.

“I think the club is going to grow in these type of moments and the players as well.”

Liverpool booked their place in the Carabao Cup final as they capitalised on their first-leg advantage and held a spirited Fulham to a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.

Luis Diaz’s opener was cancelled out by Issa Diop but the Red’s dug deep in the second leg to claim a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Liverpool will face Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea at Wembley on February 25, two years after defeating the Blues in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals.

A fired up Fulham came out of the blocks fighting as they looked to overturn a 2-1 deficit.

After Joao Palhinha’s first-time volley from Andreas Pereira’s corner sailed over, the hosts continued to push through the overlapping Antonee Robinson whose dangerous delivery failed to connect with a white shirt.

But a moment of complacency saw Liverpool strike the first blow in the 11th minute.

Jarell Quansah sent a long ball forward which appeared routine for Timothy Castagne to claim but the full-back was caught napping by Diaz.

The winger reacted quickly to beat him in the air before he drove into the box and scored past Bernd Leno at his near post.

Diaz had the ball in the back of the net again after Darwin Nunez exploited large gaps between centre-backs Tosin Adarabioyo and Diop but the goal was ruled offside after the striker naively moved too soon.

The Cottagers sought inspiration through Raul Jimenez and the Mexico international’s long-range shot forced Caoimhin Kelleher into action when he tipped the ball wide for a corner.

The hosts, now galvanised, enjoyed a five-minute flurry but despite Willian’s attempt from distance and Tom Cairney finding promising pockets, Marco Silva’s men failed to get the goal they desperately needed.

Fulham’s momentum continued after the break but so did their poor day in front of goal. Second-choice keeper Kelleher failed to collect a high ball, losing out to Bobby Decordova-Reid before Pereira found the post from a tight angle instead of the open net.

Liverpool appeared to have rode the storm and began to turn the screw themselves. After Nunez’s effort whistled past Leno’s left post in the 63rd minute, powerful midfielder Ryan Gravenberch did well to get the ball out of his feet before producing a driven strike which missed the target, much to the delight of Leno who would have been well-beaten.

Fulham blew the tie wide open when they scored in the 77th minute.

Harry Wilson drove down the left and curved a cross into the area where he found Diop, who had galloped forward from the back and expertly claimed the leveller with a neat finish past the keeper.

The west Londoners pushed for a dramatic ending and to take the tie into extra-time but a stubborn Liverpool held on through four added minutes.

Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal need a psychological “reset” after they could not capitalise on chances in their 2-0 FA Cup third-round loss to Liverpool at the Emirates.

The Gunners dominated the first half but Jakub Kiwior conceded an own goal after 80 minutes before Luis Diaz’s neat finish in second half added-time was enough for Jurgen Klopp’s men to claim victory.

Arteta’s side now have just one win in seven matches across all competitions and the boss agreed his side risk falling into a mental slump after failing to find the finishing touch.

He said: “Probably it has (become a psychological issue). Especially after today, more than it was against Fulham or West Ham before that. That’s why I think we need to reset. This break is good. It comes in a good time.

“We’re going to as well feel how we feel and how I feel about them in difficult moments. Hopefully I can see that from other people too. When things are going well they jump on the train. Now things are difficult, let’s see where they stand.

“We haven’t capitalised. Not just today, but in the last few games as well. That’s why we’re not winning games. Merit-wise there is no question that we deserve to win the games but the results are very different.

“But when my team plays with that courage and attitude against probably the best team in Europe right now in terms of momentum what can I do but stick by them and support them?

“What we need to do now is stick behind those players, give them some love, train them and make sure they visualise something very different to what is actually happening now. They’ve done it. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel, because they’ve done it.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was delighted by his side’s second-half reply, but brushed aside any suggestion he might look at the result as a harbinger for the Premier League title race, or even a boost for the Reds’ confidence in that chase.

He said: “No. I can’t (read into it). It doesn’t mean nobody can, but I can’t. We don’t have a problem with belief and confidence, we are not really bothered about the things you are talking about because we can read the calendar.

“We see it’s January; it’s cold outside, stuff like this, and you just have to stay warm and play as good as you can, and that’s what we try.”

Klopp was more forthcoming about his squad, rattling off a list of injured and absent, including Virgil van Dijk, who was ruled out with illness before the contest but remains a “hopeful” return for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg with Fulham.

He added: “It’s a tough game, nobody comes to Arsenal and wins just like this [clicks fingers], so in this game there will be difficult moments [and] if we start in these moments – which humans very often do – [looking] for excuses and then we realise who else is not here, it’s normal that we have these problems, then we are screwed.

“But if you know these kinds of things you can avoid it – and that’s what we did. The boys enjoyed the game, at least in the second half. That’s really cool. Staying in a game that looked in the first half like that, then growing into a game, is a pretty special thing to do.”

Trent Alexander-Arnold hailed Liverpool’s late victory after their 2-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup third round.

Jakub Kiwior conceded an own goal after 80 minutes before Luis Diaz’s neat finish in second half added-time was enough for Jurgen Klopp’s men to claim victory.

Liverpool struggled to get going in the opening 45 before they found their rhythm late on to book their place in the fourth round.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Alexander-Arnold said: “It was a huge win. We had a lot of players missing today. We came here with one objective, which was to win and to get into the next round and we have done that with two late goals.

“We had chances and we changed things at half-time internally. We came out and played football, created chances, the changes we made had an impact for us.

“There were times in the first half where we were a bit naive. We had mistakes, a sloppy pass here and there.”

Alexander-Arnold’s whipped corner led to Kiwior nodding the ball past Aaron Ramsdale and into his own net.

He added: “The inswingers (crosses) you want to make as difficult as possible and that’s the aim, to make it as hard as possible for them to clear the ball. Any flick from one of their players could potentially go in.”

Liverpool continue to battle on four fronts after Jakub Kiwior’s own goal and a stoppage-time strike by Luis Diaz sent them through to the FA Cup fourth round with a 2-0 win at Arsenal.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were without captain Virgil van Dijk and Mohamad Salah, but after they were able to ride their luck in north London, stand-in skipper Trent Alexander-Arnold’s excellent late cross forced the opener and Diaz was able to wrap up a hard-fought victory with a powerful late finish.

It inflicted a fourth defeat in seven matches on Arsenal, who fired another blank despite creating a plethora of chances at the Emirates to leave manager Mikel Arteta with problems to solve ahead of their short mid-season break.

The two Premier League title rivals – choosing not to wear red in support of Arsenal’s anti-knife crime initiative – played out a 1-1 draw at Anfield a fortnight ago and while both managers picked strong teams, a handful of changes were made with Aaron Ramsdale given the nod.

The Gunners goalkeeper was immediately into the thick of the action but in an attacking sense with a wonderful pass sending Reiss Nelson through on goal although he could only fire into the side-netting after rounding Alisson.

Nelson had been given a rare starting berth with Eddie Nketiah dropped and Gabriel Jesus out with a knee injury, which resulted in Kai Havertz leading the line.

Havertz tested Alisson with an early curled effort before the opener should have arrived in the 11th minute.

Bukayo Saka robbed Joe Gomez of possession and found the unmarked Havertz, who teed up Nelson and while Ibrahima Konate slide in, Martin Odegaard was first to the loose ball but he crashed an effort against the crossbar and Liverpool survived.

Klopp’s side waited until midway through the first half for their opening chance when Darwin Nunez headed wide from a Harvey Elliott corner.

It did not mark a shift in the ascendancy though with Havertz wasting a fine opening before Alisson tipped over a stinging drive from Ben White.

From the resulting corner Saka picked out Havertz at the back post, but the Germany international headed wide from six yards.

Not even treatment for Liverpool’s young defender Jarell Quansah halted Arsenal’s momentum with Havertz again denied by Alisson a minute before half-time.

Arsenal very nearly paid for their first-half profligacy when Cody Gakpo teed up Alexander-Arnold but the stand-in captain struck the crossbar with his superb 16-yard strike to ensure it remained goalless at the break.

Liverpool initially came out with improved intent for the second half and Curtis Jones curled over before Nunez flashed an effort wide.

Normal service soon resumed with Saka only able to hook over from a Havertz cross, before Alisson showed his class on the hour mark. Another Havertz delivery took a deflection off Quansah and looked to be heading in until the Reds goalkeeper brilliantly clawed the ball away, with Saka slicing wide on the follow-up.

Frustration was growing at the Emirates and as Klopp turned to his bench with Diogo Jota and Ryan Gravenberch introduced, Arteta made his first roll of the dice.

Gabriel Martinelli’s entrance injected renewed hope for an agitated home crowd, but Ramsdale was called upon with 13 minutes remaining to push wide a low effort by Diaz.

Jota headed against the bar from Alexander-Arnold’s resulting corner and yet his next delivery produced the breakthrough.

Odegaard fouled Gravenberch close to the byline and Alexander-Arnold’s fine inswinging cross was headed beyond a diving Ramsdale by the unfortunate Kiwior.

Arsenal pushed for a late leveller but Liverpool’s place in round four was confirmed when Diaz smashed home after a slick counter-attack in the fifth minute of added-time.

Liverpool have flown Luis Diaz’s parents to Merseyside so they can spend Christmas with their son after their recent kidnapping ordeal.

Cilenis Marulanda was freed almost immediately after being taken by guerrilla group the National Liberation Army earlier this month but father Luis Manuel was held captive for 12 days until being released late last week.

Diaz was reunited with his parents when he returned to Colombia for international duty and the pair were in the crowd to see their son score both goals in an emotional 2-1 victory at home to Brazil on Thursday.

The PA news agency understands that following the game Liverpool paid for a private jet, for security reasons and to help manage the family’s trauma, to bring Diaz’s parents and wider family to Merseyside so they could spend an extended period of time together.

Their plane was scheduled to land at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport early on Saturday morning.

Since Diaz’s parents were kidnapped, the club have endeavoured to provide the best possible support, with manager Jurgen Klopp allowing Diaz compassionate leave and leaving decisions about when he trained and was available for selection entirely up to the player, in keeping with the family values they believe are vital to the club’s ethos.

Diaz will rejoin his family in Liverpool when he returns from international duty after their match in Paraguay on Tuesday.

He will be on a flight with the club’s other South American players Alisson Becker, who was beaten twice by his club-mate in their game in Barranquilla in the far north of Colombia, Alexis Mac Allister and Darwin Nunez – who faced each other in Argentina’s 2-1 defeat by Uruguay – in a plane jointly chartered by a number of Premier League clubs to return their players home as expediently as possible.

Liverpool head to Manchester City in a top-of-the-table clash at the Etihad Stadium next Saturday lunchtime.

Luis Diaz scored twice as Colombia stunned Brazil 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier, days after his father was released by kidnappers.

The Liverpool striker netted twice in four minutes late in the second half, watched by his father Luiz Manuel Diaz who was held for 12 days before his release last week.

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli had put Brazil in front after just four minutes.

Colombia’s first win over Brazil for eight years lifts them into third in the South American qualifying table with Brazil, who suffered a second successive defeat in the competition, down to fifth.

On a night of surprises, goals from Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez saw Uruguay beat Argentina 2-0.

Lionel Messi struggled to impose himself, hitting the crossbar in the second half as Argentina’s 100% record since lifting the World Cup was ended.

Uruguay’s win lifts them to second in the table, two points behind Argentina.

Venezuela are in fourth after a goalless draw with Ecuador, Chile and Paraguay also drawing a blank while Bolivia won the battle of the bottom two with a 2-0 win over Peru.

Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool’s players have created a “safe place” for Luis Diaz in the days since his father was kidnapped in Colombia.

The 26-year-old came off the bench in the 83rd minute of the team’s 1-1 draw with Luton on Sunday and scored a dramatic equaliser deep into added time.

It was his first appearance since his father, Luis Manuel Diaz, was abducted in the town of Barrancas on October 28.

The striker was absent for Liverpool’s wins over Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth but marked a sensational return to action by heading in Harvey Elliott’s cross five minutes into stoppage time at Kenilworth Road.

The group responsible for the abduction, the National Liberation Army, has asked for “security guarantees” in exchange for his father’s release.

Following the game against Luton, Van Dijk said: “He’s been training with us, knowing that it’s so fresh, what’s going on. He feels like being with us is a safe place, so it helps him.

“We’re here for him. We mentioned it last week, it’s an absolutely horrible situation. Hopefully there will be a solution. We’ll be here for him and everybody should support him. Hopefully it will be sorted as soon as possible.”

Liverpool had looked set to fall to a shock defeat before Diaz’s late intervention, falling behind 10 minutes from time to a goal by Luton substitute Tahith Chong.

“He’s still disappointed because he also wanted to win,” said Van Dijk. “There’s a lot of emotions in his head. It must have been (meant to be) that he should have scored. I’m happy for him, but hopefully we can get his father back as soon as possible.

“You can’t imagine it, that’s the scary part. The only thing we can do is hope they will find him safe and sound and they get him back to his family.

“When it happened it was a shock to everyone. We spoke about it and it should give us extra motivation. He doesn’t want us to suffer from what he’s going through, he wants us to take fuel from it.”

In front of a raucous home support, the visitors struggled to break down Luton for long periods as they sought the win that would have put them second in the Premier League.

Darwin Nunez in particular was guilty of wasteful finishing when chances came, hitting the bar in the first half before conspiring to balloon an effort over from three yards out after the break.

“I don’t think it was down to the atmosphere,” said Van Dijk. “We had the first chance after half-an-hour. Score that one and it’s a completely different game.

“We didn’t and then they need one opportunity. Their results here this season have been very small margins. That’s down to how they play, they defend compact and solid.

“I respect that, but we could have made it a lot easier.”

Luis Diaz ended a traumatic week by coming off the bench to save Liverpool from a shock defeat at Luton with a stoppage-time equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

Substitute Tahith Chong looked to have secured a sensational Hatters win when he finished off a superb break to slot past Alisson 10 minutes from time.

On their first league visit in more than 30 years, Liverpool appeared rocked by a raucous atmosphere inside Kenilworth Road and were never at their free-flowing best against a side that dug in, ground out and waited for their chance.

And Chong’s goal looked to have been decisive until Diaz, who came off the bench seven minutes from the end for his first appearance since his father was kidnapped in Colombia, got his head on Harvey Elliott’s cross five minutes into added time to deny Luton a famous win.

Diaz lifted his shirt in celebration to reveal a message on a white T-shirt that read ‘libertad para papa’ or ‘freedom for my father’.

Liverpool sought the victory that would move them second in the table, but the first half was a test of their patience as Luton executed an organised, determined plan to stymy their attacking advances.

Darwin Nunez tested the reflexes of goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski early on, striking from outside the box and drawing a diving save from the Luton goalkeeper low to his left.

Nunez went closer still when his first-time effort struck the top of the crossbar from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb pass from deep in midfield.

Mohamed Salah sliced an effort over after Luton failed to clear Dominik Szoboszlai’s free-kick, but on the whole the hosts contained Liverpool well during the opening 25 minutes.

Ryan Gravenberch looked to inject urgency into a ponderous attacking display with a bursting run through the centre, laying the ball off to Diogo Jota who had made a smart run, but after an intelligent dash into space his shot was too close to Kaminski.

From the resulting corner, Alexander-Arnold hit a first-time drive that was blocked inside a crowded penalty area, encapsulating Liverpool’s half.

At the other end, Alfie Doughty and Chiedozie Ogbene linked up well down the left and worked the ball into the middle where Ross Barkley had found space. Unmarked and with a free hit at goal, the former Everton midfielder thumped his 20-yard effort over the bar as Luton’s best opening of the half came and went.

The second half brought with it a growing sense that a single goal might decide things, and Edwards’ side were credible candidates.

In the 63rd minute, Ogbene, a thorn in Liverpool’s right-hand side throughout, raced away from Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahima Konate and cut the ball back for Carlton Morris.

It looked for a moment like his contact would be sufficient to beat Alisson, but Liverpool’s goalkeeper had narrowed the angle between Morris and the goal, and the ball spun to safety.

Salah and Nunez conspired between them to miss the game’s best chance so far with 20 minutes to go.

The Egyptian was left unmarked six yards out and nodded towards his team-mate despite Kaminski being exposed. Nunez had time and space but not the composure required to crack the game open, and he ballooned horribly over.

Yet Liverpool’s threat was undoubtedly growing. Nunez made a better job of his next chance, hammering towards the near post from Salah’s pass but again Kaminski was his equal to fist it over the top.

With 10 minutes to go the moment for which home fans had patiently waited arrived, and it began with Liverpool on the attack.

It was Barkley that collected the ball as a corner routine for the visitors broke down, carrying it up over the halfway line with Liverpool committed and pushing it wide on the right into the path of Issa Kabore.

His low cross into the box landed perfectly for Chong who did not even break stride as he guided the ball with consummate cool past Alisson to send a shockwave of noise around Kenilworth Road.

It was all Liverpool after that and they snatched an equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Elliott’s ball into the box was delivered well, and as Luton lost concentration there was Diaz to nod home and rescue his side.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his “smart” players understand and embrace the increased competition for places up front.

The five forwards he has at his disposal have contributed 30 goals so far this season but only Mohamed Salah, who has 10, is a guaranteed starter every week.

Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz -unavailable for the last two matches due to his father’s kidnapping in Colombia – have all made an impact when they have been selected and despite Klopp’s rotation they all appear to gel well together.

“The boys are all smart. The good thing is we have really only smart players, that means they understand they cannot play all the games,” he said.

“It’s not, ‘I want to play Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday.’ That’s just not possible but everybody sees (it that way) as well.

“That’s how a smart footballer should think and our boys do that: ‘If I can’t play then it’s better we have another really good player who can play the position’. That’s exactly how I see it.

“It’s only four (because of Diaz’s absence) all of a sudden but there are a lot of games still coming if you see the schedule – after the international break it turns completely crazy – so in that time we have to be ready.

“If you want to play a successful season and not only have successful spells, you need the boys through all these different phases.

“We have to get through this and with not a lot of injuries (and then) we have really the joys but if not the boys have just to fight through it.

“For the moment it’s OK, but we need it like this for pretty much the rest of the season, to be honest.”

Of all their front five Cody Gakpo is probably the unsung hero.

The Netherlands international has scored on his last four starts, netting the first goal in three of those, but has been the player sacrificed the most to accommodate holes in the squad as he started the campaign in midfield.

“If we have everybody available it was never the plan to put Cody there but it was for him something new after (playing) the false nine last year,” added Klopp.

“But he’s a super-smart player so he can adapt to that and we want him to adapt.

“He’s just a versatile striker, he can play everywhere up front there. For us it’s super-important. He arrives in the box, he is a good shooter, he has a good nose for the situation.

“How I said, the boys up front all like each other, there’s not this battle of ‘Will I start?’ They know they can all play together.”

Liverpool head to Luton on Sunday looking for their first clean sheet away from Anfield in any competition this season but are on six-match unbeaten run, winning the last four.

As it stands they are in a four-way race for the title but Klopp is keen not to get too excited about how well they have started.

“It’s so early. I’m so happy that we have a really good team together but look at the other teams, they are really good as well,” he said.

“A lot of really good teams are out there and it’s the Premier League so it’s not about celebrating the moment and being relieved that we kind of can play football again.

“No, it’s really about digging into the season, use the full potential of this group, get everything out of it and then let’s see.”

Liverpool winger Luis Diaz has trained this week but manager Jurgen Klopp will allow the player to decide whether he wants to be involved at the weekend.

The Colombia international’s father is still missing after being kidnapped last week and although there have been suggestions in South America he may soon be set free the 26-year-old has understandably had a difficult few days.

“He was in training two days ago, yesterday he had a session and will be part of the team (training),” said Klopp ahead of Sunday’s trip to Luton.

“We must wait. If he feels right, he will be here and train with us. The session he had with us, you can see when he is with the boys he is fine, he is OK, but you could see he didn’t sleep a lot.

“We have to see how he is and we go from there. The news from Colombia gives us a little bit of hope. We are waiting for the really good news but that’s it pretty much.

“I cannot say what we will do because we just wait where we can pick up the boy from and go from there.

“But it’s all about him, if he makes himself available or not, and I will not force anything.”

Colombian police are searching a mountain range in the north of the country for the kidnapped father of Liverpool forward Luis Diaz.

Diaz’s mother has been rescued but the Colombian authorities have stepped up the search for his father, with the player having returned home to be with family members.

Police have been carrying out aerial patrols across the Perija mountain range, which straddles the border with Venezuela and is covered by a forest.

In a post on social media, Colombian police director general William Salamanca was shown visiting the operation in order to “recognise our commandos for their bravery and commitment to rescue him safe and sound”.

Police have offered a reward worth around £39,000 for information leading to the rescue of Luis Manuel Diaz.

On Monday Salamanca urged caution with regards to reports that Luis Manuel might already have been taken into Venezuela, pointing to the difficulty of crossing the Perija mountains.

Both FIFA and the Colombia Football Federation have offered support to Diaz, 26, while Liverpool allowed the player to return home.

Speaking after Sunday’s 3-0 home win over Nottingham Forest, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said preparation for the game had been “the most difficult I’ve ever had in my life”.

Klopp added: “I didn’t expect that, I wasn’t prepared for it. I don’t want to make the game bigger than it was, but definitely, we tried to help Luis with the fight we put in because obviously we want to help and we cannot really help.

“So the only thing we can do is fight for him and that’s what the boys did.”

Liverpool said in a statement: “Liverpool Football Club can confirm it is aware of an ongoing situation involving the family of Luis Diaz in Colombia.

“It is our fervent hope that the matter is resolved safely and at the earliest possible opportunity. In the meantime, the player’s welfare will continue to be our immediate priority.”

Liverpool signed Diaz from Porto in January 2022 in an initial £37.5million deal that included a potential extra £12.5million in add-ons.

Liverpool have confirmed an “ongoing situation involving the family of Luis Diaz” amid reports the forward’s parents were kidnapped in Colombia.

Colombia’s president said Diaz’s mother “has been rescued” but his father remains missing.

Liverpool said they were supporting the player and he sat out the Reds’ Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

“Liverpool Football Club can confirm it is aware of an ongoing situation involving the family of Luis Diaz in Colombia,” read a club statement.

“It is our fervent hope that the matter is resolved safely and at the earliest possible opportunity. In the meantime, the player’s welfare will continue to be our immediate priority.”

Colombia president Gustavo Petro said on X, formerly known as Twitter: “In an operation in Barrancas, Luis Diaz’s mother has been rescued, we continue the search for the father.”

The country’s football federation said in a statement that the kidnapping was regrettable and urged authorities to rescue Diaz’s father.

“The Colombian Football Federation rejects the security situation that the parents of our player Luis Díaz are going through,” they said.

“From the FCF we express our solidarity with him and his entire family and we call for the relevant authorities to act as quickly as possible to resolve the situation.”

Liverpool signed Diaz from Porto in January 2022 in an initial £37.5million deal that included a potential extra £12.5million in add-ons.

The 26-year-old winger has made 11 appearances this season and scored three goals.

Diaz was an unused substitute for Thursday’s 5-1 Europa League win against Toulouse after starting the Premier League victory over Everton last weekend.

He was not in the 18-strong squad that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp named for Forest’s Premier League visit to Anfield.

Page 1 of 2
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.