Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies were "making big steps" ahead of their potential debuts for the club.

Amid an injury crisis in defence, the Premier League champions added Kabak, on loan from Schalke, and Davies at the end of the mid-season transfer window.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sidelined and Joel Matip set to miss the rest of the season, Liverpool will also be without Fabinho for Saturday's trip to Leicester City.

Kabak or Davies could debut at the King Power Stadium and Klopp said the pair were making strong progress.

"They are calm people, both Ben and Ozan, willing to learn, really great attitude," he said.

"They really throw themselves in everything that is ahead of them. What a defender should do. Making big steps, adapting to the way we play, again, that's important.

"We have still a clear way to defend which is important because if both of them would be on the pitch, then there are still nine players who are used to what we did before. So even the two players would do something differently that would lead to a strange situation. So, yeah, it's all good.

"It's all good so far and now we have to make this our set. We have to change again because of Fab and now we will see, which solution we will take."

The clash with Leicester City will mark Klopp's 300th game in charge of Liverpool, who are fourth in the table.

Liverpool have won on their past three Premier League visits to Leicester, who this season have already lost five league home games – one more than in the whole of the last campaign.

Klopp's men will be seeking to avoid a third successive league defeat this month after losing at home to Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City. They last lost three games in a row in the Premier League in November 2014, when current Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers was in charge of the Reds.

Jurgen Klopp will take charge of his 300th Liverpool game when the Premier League champions head to Leicester City on Saturday.

The German has brought the glory days back to Anfield since replacing Brendan Rodgers in 2015, winning the Champions League in 2018-19 before ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight title last season.

However, injury problems have contributed to a dip in form this term and they trail Manchester City by 10 points, leaving Klopp in a less celebratory mood than he might have been ahead of his landmark.

"First and foremost it doesn't feel like [I'm approaching my 300th game] in this moment, I can tell you," he said ahead of his meeting with Rodgers' side this weekend.

"It's not really important. It's something that when I'm not here any more I will think about the time I had here.

"I know that my job is still the present and the future, and not the past. Game number 300 is very important to me, and games one to 299 not a little bit at this moment.

"We know that we are not completely clueless or whatever, but we know that we have to be successful in the future and that's what we try.

"I don't get the noise around the results...but I know what the situation is and I talk about results in general.

"Even though I know the reason why we are not flying, I expect us to win more football games than we did to be honest, and that's what I'm concerned about."

While the Reds' title defence may be crumbling under immense pressure from City, Klopp's record still makes for impressive reading.

In his 299 games to date, the 53-year-old has won 177, with only Kenny Dalglish (185) having claimed more victories at the same stage of his reign.

His win percentage stands at a club-record 59.2, putting him above the likes of Bill Shankly (51.9) and Bob Paisley (57.4), with Liverpool having scored 614 goals under his charge, conceding 308.

Klopp will need to stick around on Merseyside for quite some time if he wants to rack up the highest number of wins, with Shankly having triumphed 415 times from his 799 matches.

His top priority will be aiming to respond to the setback of suffering consecutive defeats for the first time in his tenure, having been beaten by Brighton and Hove Albion before losing to Pep Guardiola's in-form side.

The last man to oversee three losses on the bounce for Liverpool was Foxes boss Rodgers, with Klopp's predecessor having achieved a 50 per cent win ratio at the club.

History weighs heavily against Rodgers piling the misery on Klopp, with managers who have previously been in charge of Liverpool having lost their last 12 Premier League matches against the Reds by an aggregate score of 39-8.

The last former Liverpool boss to win against them in the Premier League was Roy Hodgson with West Brom back in 2012.

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City were "not the team I can recognise" during their early season struggles.

A defeat to Tottenham in November left them languishing 11th in the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho's men going top.

Spurs visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to face a City team who have not lost in 22 outings across all competitions since that match and sit five points clear at the Premier League summit.

Discussing a remarkable turnaround, Guardiola did not think the reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium proved to be the pivot point.

Perhaps more damningly, he felt the nadir came the following month, when City followed up a 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford by being held 1-1 at home by West Brom - relegation threatened opponents who still sacked boss Slaven Bilic in the aftermath of taking that point.

"To be specific, it was after the game against West Bromwich," Guardiola said. "We could've won with two incredible chances at the end but after that game, I felt this is not the team I can recognise myself. I didn't like what I watched, I didn't like what I saw.

"We talked and we said, okay, we have to come back to our first principle. We had to reconstruct the team from that point. What we are as a team, how we had success in the past.

"We had to come back to our game, move the ball quicker, do more passes, stay in position, run less with the ball, do it together. We don't have a specific player to win games, we have to do it together.

"But above all that was the commitment of the players. They talked, they thought, okay, we have to do more and they did it."

The results have been startling, with City winning every one of their 15 subsequent matches - an all-time record for a top-flight English club.

In the 15 games preceding their ongoing streak, City won nine and drew five alongside the Spurs loss.

The arrival of Ruben Dias had already gone a long way to shoring up a defence humiliated during a 5-2 September loss to Leicester City, with City breached six times during those 15 matches. They have let in five during the winning run.

Their expected goals (xG) is actually up from 7.1 to eight, with 10 clean sheets in each batch of games.

It is up front where Guardiola's men have rediscovered their mojo despite the on-going absence of club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.

City's 40 goals dwarf 25 from the prior 15 outings. Misses such as the ones from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling that Guardiola referenced from the West Brom draw are also less of a factor.

During that segment earlier in the season, City were tracking below an xG of 27.7. With the likes of Premier League Player of the Month Gundogan (eight in 15 games), Sterling, Phil Foden (both six) and Gabriel Jesus (five) back in the goals, they are operating clearly above an xG of 32.9.

Tottenham's season is heading sharply in the other direction.

They were eight points better off than City after beating them, but their subsequent 13 Premier League matches read won four, drawn four, lost five.

Counting top division matches only from this period, City have outscored Spurs 33 to 15, having played once more, claiming 38 points to Tottenham's 16.

Guardiola's backline has been breached a mere three times since that last league loss and faced 92 shots at an xG against of 6.6. Mourinho's men have faced 183 attempts on goal and an xG against of 15.91 is a touch higher than their 13 conceded.

Once again, the tempestuous and thrilling back and forth that marked Guardiola and Mourinho's spells in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid will not be repeated in England, as was the case when the Portuguese took up residence across the city at Manchester United.

For this reason, perhaps, Guardiola was comfortable speaking cordially about his old rival.

"I have a good relationship with him, we can agree or disagree but it's not a big problem," he said.

"His business is Tottenham, or before United, mine is City. We have to handle our team and backroom staff and we don't have time to know what about the other club and could not care less.

"The only concern is what we have to do tomorrow."

Barcelona signing Sergio Aguero could help convince Lionel Messi to stay, according to Juli Lopez, who is involved with Victor Font's candidacy to be the club's next president.  

Messi's future beyond this season remains uncertain as he comes towards the end of his contract. The 33-year-old made clear his desire to leave prior to the 2020-21 campaign but ended up remaining at Camp Nou to see out his deal.  

Paris Saint-Germain have been strongly linked with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while Manchester City were reportedly interested in reuniting the Argentinian with his former Barca boss Pep Guardiola in England.  

However, Lopez – who will oversee the sporting department if Font wins the election – feels a familiar face arriving from City could help make all the difference for Messi.  

Asked in an interview with Marca if bringing in Aguero would help Messi decide to remain in Spain, he replied: "Absolutely.  

"Barcelona need another goalscorer. Aguero wouldn't be signed just so Messi stays. We're talking about a top striker who wants to be playing top-level European football up to the World Cup in Qatar.  

"He would bring a huge lift to the club and would play a huge role at Barcelona."

Like Messi, Aguero's deal with his current team is into the final few months.  

The striker is City's all-time leading scorer but has barely featured this season due to injuries and illness, making just nine appearances in all competitions. After hamstring and knee issues earlier in the campaign, he tested positive for coronavirus in January.  

Lopez also discussed the potential return of a Barcelona legend in Xavi – who is the head coach at Al Sadd in Qatar – as another move that may convince Messi, as the talismanic forward would be able to see there is a clear plan mapped out for the future.

"The first thing is to make sure he can see that this team in the medium and long term will play in the way that he likes," Lopez said.  

"Someone who he trusts will need to tell him this. Who better to explain the project than his former team-mate Xavi?  

"A good project and someone he can trust are the two key ingredients to keep him at the club."

Leicester City's Champions League aspirations suffered a major blow with the news full-back James Justin will require surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Justin hurt his knee in Leicester's FA Cup win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday and was taken off on a stretcher.

Manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed the severity of the injury in Friday's pre-match media conference ahead of their Premier League meeting with Liverpool.

"Sadly the scan hasn't shown up so well, which is a massive blow for us," Rodgers said.

"He looks like he's done his ACL, which is a devastating blow for us because he's been incredible since he came into the team last year.

"He's played in many positions. Wherever I've asked him to play, whatever position, he's been a minimum eight out of 10 and developing as a top Premier League player."

Rodgers' words are supported by the Opta data, with Justin clearly emerging as one of the better attacking full-backs in the league and among Leicester's top outlets going forward.

Justin has created 20 chances in the league this season, level with attacking midfielder Harvey Barnes and behind only James Maddison, who has crafted double that amount in an excellent campaign, among Leicester players.

The gap between Maddison and Justin in chances created from open play is significantly closer. Maddison still has the edge, but only by a 24-19 margin.

Marc Albrighton (5) is the only Leicester player to set up more 'big chances' for his team-mates than Justin (4).

Only one of Justin's chances created has resulted in an assist, though his proficiency in starting attacks is illustrated by his accuracy on passes into the final third.

He has been successful with 74 per cent of such passes, second only to Maddison (75).

Among Premier League defenders who have played at least 10 games, Justin has created the 12th-most chances and the fifth-most big chances.

Just seven defenders have generated more chances from open play, Joao Cancelo leading the way with (30), while seven defenders have a higher number of passes into the final third than Justin's 312.

Leicester will face the top two players in that regard, Andrew Robertson (577) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (508), when they welcome Liverpool to the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho believes Tottenham must be "perfect" to stop Manchester City racking up a 16th straight win on Saturday, and Harry Kane is poised for a key role.

City's last defeat in any competition came at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November, when Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso struck to stun Pep Guardiola's visitors.

What has become a record-breaking run of wins for any English top-flight team began in December, and it appears City are charging towards the Premier League title following last Sunday's 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool.

Spurs led the way briefly before Christmas, but their season has unravelled and they enter the weekend in eighth spot, already 14 points behind City.

The 5-4 FA Cup defeat at Everton on Wednesday was another jolt and Mourinho's stewardship is again coming under scrutiny, with the head coach seeking an upturn in momentum.

Mourinho will usually dissect the post-match data of Tottenham's game, but when presented with the file from the Everton game he recognised it was too bleak an experience to relive.

"I opened and in two seconds I closed it immediately because I didn't want to go through it," he said on Friday.

"And I don't want even to share that with my players."

Among those players, Mourinho says Kane is fit and well. The England captain came off the bench early for Spurs in the second half at Everton, with his equaliser sending the game into extra time.

Mourinho had hoped Kane would only play a fleeting role at Goodison Park, having only returned from injury in last weekend's win over West Brom.

"He played 60 minutes or so, which he didn't want and I didn't want, but it was the game that pushed us in that direction, but no negative feelings after the game, just the normal stiffness. I believe he can start," Mourinho said.

It is hard to imagine Tottenham standing any chance against this rampant City side without Kane, who has scored the opening goal in more Premier League games than any other player this season (6).

Kane remains the main man, despite Son netting six goals in his past eight games against City across all competitions, with only Leicester City's Jamie Vardy (9) having scored more against the Etihad Stadium side since Guardiola was appointed.

The Kane-Son combination makes Spurs tick, and without one or the other, their threat diminishes.

Both have 13 league goals this season, with Kane also having 11 assists and Son six.

Tottenham have played two Premier League games without Kane this season, losing both times, so to have him absent against a side of City's stature would be asking for trouble.

"They're a very, very good team with a fantastic run of results, no doubts about that," Mourinho said. "It's always difficult to play against Man City. There is nothing new about it. They are probably now the biggest candidate to win the title which is not a big surprise.

"We beat them because we played so, so, so, so well in that match, and that's the only way any team can beat Man City."

Since that November defeat to Spurs, City have gone unbeaten in 14 Premier League games, winning 12 and drawing twice, conceding just three goals in that time.

"You make a defensive mistake and they'll kill you," Mourinho said. "You just look to the pragmatism of the numbers and what is Man City in this moment? It is a team that wins matches, it is a team that scores goals, and it is a team that doesn't concede goals.

"So when you play against a team with these very clear numbers, you know it is very difficult to stop them to score, because they score all the time, and you know it is difficult to score goals, because they don't concede.

"So you have to play a perfect match, like we did when we played them here at home.

"I don't see any weakness, that why I say to win the game we need to be perfect in every aspect and every minute because they are really a very strong team."

Manchester City's record-breaking winning run will count for nothing when they take to the field against Tottenham on Saturday, Pep Guardiola has warned.

City set a new best mark for an English top-flight club in midweek when a 3-1 FA Cup fifth-round triumph at Swansea City marked a 15th successive victory across all competitions.

Guardiola's side are five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand on their nearest rivals.

Spurs were the last team to defeat City, prevailing 2-0 last November - 23 matches ago.

Jose Mourinho's men are chasing a third consecutive win over their weekend opponents and Guardiola is taking nothing for granted.

"It's nice to make a good run but it is the consequence of thinking game by game," he said, with trips to Everton and Arsenal also on the agenda for City over the next nine days.

"The statistics are nice, but statistics don't help you to win the next one.

"We are not unbeatable. The 15 games in a row winning doesn't help us to start 2-0 in the next game.

"It's nice, it's good, it helps us to be where we are in the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Premier League, but we have to start again tomorrow. It's an important week against three incredibly strong teams.

"From our game when we played there, we have to imagine what we have to do to play better and beat them."

Guardiola expects to have influential central defender Ruben Dias back in contention after he missed the Swansea game through illness, while holding midfielder Rodri is back in training after limping off during the second half at the Liberty Stadium.

Sergio Aguero could also make his return after a bout of coronavirus, with Fernandinho (thigh), Nathan Ake and Kevin De Bruyne (both hamstring) the only definite absentees confirmed by Guardiola.

The City boss was named Premier League Manager of the Month on Friday, with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan collecting the Player of the Month award.

Germany international Gundogan has hit a rich vein of form in front of goal and a brace in last Sunday's 4-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield took him to 11 for the season in all competitions - making this already the most prolific campaign of the 30-year-old's career.

"I'm happy for him. Lots of goals, lots of minutes, lots of good actions - it's more than well deserved," Guardiola said.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauded Fred for building a career for himself at Manchester United after a rocky start, with the midfielder preparing to make his 100th appearance for the club.

Fred joined United in 2018 for a reported £52million from Shakhtar Donetsk, the deal seen as a significant coup for the Red Devils after he had been heavily linked with bitter rivals Manchester City. 

Pep Guardiola was said to have seen Fred as the ideal long-term replacement for Fernandinho, but United fans were left underwhelmed by what they saw in his first season at Old Trafford, making just 17 Premier League appearances. 

But he showed signs of improvement last season and has become one of Solskjaer's go-to players for the biggest matches, highlighting the manager's trust. 

In 2019-20, Fred improved virtually across the board statistically, averaging more passes (66.4 to 69.5), interceptions (1.4 to 1.6) and touches (85.3 to 91.1) per game than he had in his first season. 

He has dropped off in some of those areas this term, but his increase in tackle attempts (3.2 from 2.5) and interceptions (at 1.9 this season) per game, coupled with the fact he is losing possession less often (11.5 occasions, down from 14.5 per 90 minutes) suggests he has become more comfortable with his defensive role and the speed of the English game. 

His 3.2 tackles attempted per 90 minutes is the seventh-most of all Premier League players to have featured at least 10 times this term, and Solskjaer has no doubt where the praise should lie. 

"He's really done well. I've enjoyed working with him these past couple of seasons," Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Sunday's trip to West Brom. 

"When I came in, he was a boy who was struggling a little bit. I got numerous questions about Fred in press conferences early on. As I said then, players coming into a new country, it takes time to settle - and it took some time for Fred to settle. 

"He has settled now, he's grown in confidence. There's less time in the Premier League than what he was used to. He's quickened up his game, he's not getting caught on the ball.

"I'm not going to take any credit for that, of course. It's the coaches - I think Michael Carrick and Kieran [McKenna], they've been brilliant with him, but it's Fred himself who has had the hunger and humility to learn and want to improve, stick at it and keep working. 

"There are not a lot of people who can say they've played 100 games for Manchester United. Hopefully there will be many more [games] to come - and hopefully he will score from outside the box soon, but I'm not sure it’s going to be with his right [foot]! I've tried to tell him." 

With Solskjaer confirming Paul Pogba remains sidelined with a thigh injury, Fred looks likely to play again this weekend and his most-likely partner behind Bruno Fernandes will be another United midfielder who has attracted praise this season. 

Scott McTominay scored the extra-time winner as United beat West Ham 1-0 on Tuesday to book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals, taking the Scotland international's tally for the season to seven goals. 

Only Bruno Fernandes (18) and Marcus Rashford (16) have more than McTominay across all competitions in 2020-21, with Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani also on seven each, and Solskjaer is urging the midfielder to reach double figures. 

"Of course, to add goals from midfield is vital," Solskjaer continued. "Last season our three forwards were brilliant and really efficient and scored goals - 60 odd - and Bruno came in and scored goals. 

"We need more goals from midfield and Scott does have that ability to go box-to-box. He's a threat inside the box and he used to be a striker. 

"I think for us to move up the league and be successful in the cups, we need our forwards to keep on firing - getting more goals - and I wouldn't mind some midfielders adding a few.

"If Scott can get into double figures then that would be a very good season for a so-called defensive midfielder."

Jose Mourinho has blasted Gareth Bale following the under-fire Tottenham star's Instagram post, which the Portuguese coach said did not reflect reality.

The on-loan Real Madrid forward, who has failed to live up to his billing following a celebrated return to north London in September, was not included in the squad for Wednesday's remarkable 5-4 loss to Everton in the FA Cup.

Mourinho suggested after the fifth-round exit at Goodison Park that Bale had practically ruled himself out after the Welshman said he was in some discomfort and required a scan.

The Spurs boss said there was no "obvious, clear injury" but that Bale had opted to work with the club's sports scientists to help alleviate the problem, hence his omission in midweek.

However, Bale had put a post on Instagram before the game showing him apparently in full training, with the words "good session today".

It left Mourinho, who has the small matter of Saturday's trip to Premier League leaders Manchester City to contend with, baffled.

"I have to admit that his post created a need of being addressed," he said. "There was a contradiction between the post and the reality.

"Since the beginning of the season, in relation to everything, I've tried to be very private and keep everything indoors, but I felt that I needed to address the situation.

"Probably the post was not even his responsibility, but it was showing that training session was great and I'm ready, which was totally wrong. So, when questioned I had to give the reality of things.

"I repeat for the last time. He was not feeling good. He asked for a scan. He had a scan. The scan did not show an injury, but his feelings were still there. But as coaches, medical people, we can never go against the player's feelings. So, he was not ready for the game. It's as simple as that. If he's ready for tomorrow, he's selected for tomorrow."

The incident marks another unhelpful chapter in Bale's thus far deeply underwhelming return to Spurs, with the chances of a permanent switch back looking increasingly remote.

A scorer in two of his four Champions League final successes at Madrid, fitness problems dogged Bale over recent seasons as he fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

The 31-year-old has four goals in 16 appearances for Spurs this term, although only two of his six Premier League outings have been starts.

Thomas Partey's injury problems since joining Arsenal have taken a toll on the midfielder, according to manager Mikel Arteta.

Partey joined the Gunners for £45million from Atletico Madrid in October and appeared a perfect answer to a problem position in the midfield engine room.

However, a hip issue meant he was restricted to four Premier League starts before the turn of the year and was forced off at half-time during the latter of those.

He returned to start in five consecutive league matches from mid-January onwards but the 27-year-old Ghana international sustained a hamstring injury during last weekend's 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's match against Leeds United at Emirates Stadium, Arteta conceded Partey's latest setback is more serious than first anticipated.

"It is a difficult one, he felt something during the game and we didn't think it was too bad but after the scan looked a little bit worse," he said.

"He won't be available to play against Leeds and we will see how it evolves in the next two days, but it is a muscular issue.

"He was devastated, we were all devastated because we know the importance of Thomas and we haven't had him since we signed him.

"I think he has only played 90 minutes once since he has come back from injury, so it is a big blow for us.

"But he is adapting to the league, he has been very unlucky as well and he is very frustrated because he is a very competitive guy who wants to feel important and be important for the team.

"At the moment the injuries are restricting a lot of game time for him."

Kieran Tierney is also out of the Leeds match, but the Scotland defender at least has light at the end of the tunnel following a knee sprain and is expected back in training next week.

"We have to see how the knee reacts when he starts to get a bit more load," Arteta explained.

"He hasn't had much left but he is very positive at the moment, he is in good spirits and he is desperate to get back in the team and we will see in the next few days.

"The moment he starts to train with the team [we will] see how he is feeling and how he reacts."

Nicolas Pepe was sent off when the sides drew 0-0 at Elland Road earlier in the season but the club-record signing has had a better time of things lately, scoring in each of the recent trips to Southampton and Wolves.

"Again, he can maintain that level now for months, not weeks," Arteta said, although he feels the improvement by the former Lille winger is clear to see.

"I think there has been a click with him, even in his mentality, how he's approaching every training session, the importance of every action in the game and how he can sustain his focus and his determination during games.

"I really like his attitude. What he's done in the last few weeks I think it's been much better.

"He still has a lot of room to improve and grow and he's willing to do that so I'm expecting him to go to the next level very soon."

Jurgen Klopp promised Alisson has the full support of Liverpool's dressing room as he backed the goalkeeper to bounce back from his Manchester City nightmare.

The Reds boss also revealed that Fabinho has suffered an injury blow, ruling the midfielder turned stand-in centre-back out of Saturday's trip to Leicester City.

In his tale of two Brazilians, Klopp said he had taken Alisson aside this week to check on the shot-stopper after his error-plagued performance in Sunday's 4-1 defeat to Pep Guardiola's men at Anfield.

Two poor clearances with his feet presented City with chances from which they ruthlessly capitalised, and now Liverpool are 10 points adrift in the Premier League title race, the champions' hopes of a successful defence seemingly in tatters.

Klopp said: "We had of course a little talk. If it was about encouragement or what, I don't know. It's just a little talk.

"He was not happy that it happened, of course, but it's very important in a moment like this to realise in a long career goalkeepers make mistakes.

"For a goalkeeper of the quality of Alisson Becker it's pretty rare that he makes this kind of mistakes, and that he makes two of them in one game, that's clear as well.

"But goalkeepers are used to making mistakes. It means they have to stay in a game. They concede a goal and they know earlier than maybe all the rest of the world – 'I should have saved it' – and have to deal with that always.

"He has just a few days in between the City game and this game and there was absolutely no real criticism from our side, from the boys, the players around him, because everybody knows how good he is.

"He is a very calm person and now the next game is coming up and he can play his normal level again, then everything will be fine."

Klopp said Fabinho had a "little muscle issue" that rules him out of contention for the King Power Stadium clash with a Leicester side who sit three points above Liverpool in the table.

Ozan Kabak, on loan from Schalke, could be an option to replace Fabinho at centre-back, but Klopp would not be drawn on who would figure in his defence.

He said Liverpool must "fight through a situation like this because nobody will help you", and pointed to the threats posed by Leicester's Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes.

The German boss described fast-improving winger Barnes as "one of the biggest talents ... an unbelievable player".

Klopp must also know Vardy will relish facing a defence that has looked as vulnerable as Liverpool's in recent times.

"Jamie's obviously a proper challenge in this league, the way he plays and the way he gets set up by his mates," Klopp said.

He said taming Vardy would require a collective effort.

"That's a proper job to do, but you only can do it always with the whole team," Klopp said.

"Jamie's a world-class player for sure in a specific area of the pitch and with his speed that's really tricky."


What have Liverpool got to worry about?

In many senses, Klopp should be relishing this trip. Liverpool have won on their last three Premier League visits to Leicester, who this season have already lost five Premier League home games – one more than in the whole of the last campaign.

Leicester have plenty of incentive, however, not least wanting to avoid losing four consecutive home top-flight matches to a specific opponent since a run of five defeats between 1999 and 2003 against Manchester United.

Liverpool are in a worrying dip, and a trip to a top-four rival comes at a time when West Ham, Chelsea and even Everton are rivalling them for a spot in the Champions League places.

Klopp's men will be seeking to avoid a third successive league defeat this month after losing at home to Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City. They last lost three games in a row in the Premier League in November 2014, when current Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers was in charge of the Reds.

Thomas Tuchel is confident Chelsea will get to see the best of the "incredibly talented" Kai Havertz but warned there is no quick fix to help him reach his full potential. 

Havertz was a big-money signing by the Premier League club prior to the start of the season, having starred in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen in recent years. 

However, after a solid beginning to his career at Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old has found it tough going in recent months, not aided by contracting coronavirus in November. 

Having scored one goal and set up another in his opening five league games, Havertz has managed just one solitary assist since, creating a total of 13 chances in his 18 appearances, albeit only 12 of those have been starts. 

The Germany international has missed Chelsea's previous three games through injury and while Monday's clash with Newcastle United may come too soon, Tuchel is willing to be patient with his compatriot. 

"I'm pretty sure we will see him," he replied when asked if Chelsea will see the same Havertz who dazzled for Leverkusen.  

"It takes time, there is no short answer – if there was, I'd go and talk to him in that way to bring out his full potential. What we know and can rely on is that all this potential is in him and it's logical that he can show it on the pitch.  

"For every transfer, for every change of club for the player, it's different. Sometimes it needs a little more time to adapt, sometimes it can be quick, sometimes it can be between one match and another, sometimes a process.  

"All we can do is push him, support him, give him what he needs. We figure this out with us right now. 

"He had a pretty good start with us, he had good matches, and I have the feeling that I see a guy that is totally clear, totally self-aware, very humble and incredibly talented. There are no doubts that he will show this – the sooner the better. 

"Now, unfortunately, he missed some training sessions and games for us, but hopefully he can come back in the next few days, because I'm absolutely convinced he will have a big impact at this club."

Tuchel appreciates he is not short of options within his squad, particularly in midfield where Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic are seemingly vying for two positions. There is also Billy Gilmour too, showing the strength in depth at Chelsea.

The former Paris Saint-Germain coach is pleased with the competition for places and understands he will have to manage expectations when it comes to first-team minutes.

"If we have difficult decisions to make, everything is good as we have a full squad available," Tuchel said.

"If I have a difficult decision to make, it's my job to manage them. It's my job to trust also the guy from the bench. Is it possible to achieve our goal with 12, 13, 14 players? No, it's simply not possible. 

"To have the three guys is a big gift for me for the two positions. To have a fourth guy like Billy Gilmour is absolutely necessary on this kind of level we expect from us, what the supporters also expect from the team. 

"We need exactly this kind of quality and I'm not worried about the management, because I feel a group that is strong, I feel a bond between the players.

"Yes, we will have to prove it when things become a bit difficult, a bit complicated. But, until today, I feel a very good atmosphere, and it's my job to manage that, to focus on that and create it. 

"They can be competitive with each other but we need to be allies, need to be close and understand this is an effort of the whole team."

Tuchel confirmed Timo Werner is expected to be back to face Newcastle, while Thiago Silva is targeting a return to action against Southampton on February 20.

The game will mark a first for the Chelsea boss, who has never previously managed a top-flight match on a Monday. His last match in any competition on that day was back in August 2016, when he led Borussia Dortmund to a 3-0 win in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.

Wayne Rooney believes Phil Foden and Jack Grealish are too good to be left out of the England starting XI for Euro 2020.

Manchester City youngster Foden starred with a goal and an assist in the 4-1 away win at Premier League champions Liverpool last week.

He is gaining momentum after being handed more opportunities by manager Pep Guardiola.

Grealish, meanwhile, has thrived for Aston Villa this season, establishing himself as one of the Premier League's leading players with six top-flight goals and 10 assists.

Rooney is England's record goalscorer and thinks the form of the two attacking midfielders has become impossible to ignore ahead of the tournament.

"They have to be in the squad and arguably have to play because they are that good," the Derby County boss said about Foden and Grealish.

"Phil Foden has been one of the best players in the league this season, I think Guardiola has managed him really well.

"For Phil, it's about keeping doing what he's doing. He's one of the best players in the league this season.

"Foden is performing excellently — scoring, assisting — and hopefully he can carry that form on with England. He is entertaining to watch. 

"When my lad [Kai] used to go into City, I used to see Phil there.

"I spoke to him a couple of times and I could see he's a very level-headed lad. He was there a lot of the time, but it was just general chat, not me giving him advice.

"There are a few players — not just him. I think Jack Grealish brings something different for the national team."

Foden made his England debut away to Iceland in September but was promptly removed from the squad along with Mason Greenwood for breaking coronavirus protocols.

He responded by scoring a double - his first international goals - in the home match against Iceland in November.

Grealish, meanwhile, has five England caps and manager Gareth Southgate has spoken about the dilemma he faces over whether to play him or Chelsea's Mason Mount.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed he received threats to his family on social media and called for more to be done to protect those in football from abuse.

Footballers being subjected to vile messages online has become an increasingly prominent issue over recent weeks, with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Chelsea's Reece James among those to have been racially abused.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce explained he had received death threats via social media and referee Mike Dean has been stood down from Premier League action this weekend after his family were abused.

Speaking ahead of Arsenal's match against Leeds United at Emirates Stadium, Arteta stated he had been placed in a similarly grim position.

"I prefer not to read it, but we're all exposed to it in this industry," he said, in a week when the Premier League launched its No Room for Racism Action Plan.

"That's why I prefer not to read because it would affect me personally much more [but] in the moment someone wants to touch my family. Because it happened, the club was aware of it and tried to do something about it.

"That's it, we have to live with it. It's not going to stop tomorrow, we know that. But medium, long-term can we do something about it? That's what I'm pushing for.

"It's part of the job. I'm not the only one who is suffering these kind of things. When you're winning, everything is beautiful and you are incredible, you are the best coach.

"When you lose it's completely the opposite. It's not pleasant. When it goes personal against me, I can take it. When the family is involved it's a different story. We are lucky that the club was very supportive when those things happened."

Arsenal have spoken to their players to offer support given the realities of the current climate and Arteta also offered his backing to Dean.

"Of course, we've spoken internally about the players and given them advice to try and protect them as much as possible," he said.

"The incident that occurred a few days ago with Mike Dean was completely unacceptable and we should stand with Mike and the referee community.

"They have an incredibly difficult role at the moment in the league, with a lot of key decisions that affect teams one way or another.

"They try to do their best, they prepare in the best possible way and we all make mistakes. We have to support them."

Asked whether he still went on his own social media platforms, Arteta replied: "No. If we were reading everything written about us probably we'd have to stay in bed a lot of days.

"It's part of it. I think it's great that people have so many platforms and ways to communicate and give their opinions.

"The only thing I'm asking is to be respectful. You don't have to battle anybody or try to hurt anybody, just give your opinion with the best intentions.

"When it's constructive everybody can take criticism. It's part of our job to look at it and think and reflect on it.

"When people do it with the intention of hurting, that's when it becomes a little bit silly in my opinion.

"It's just about finding that balance. I think there are things we can do to protect the industry a little bit better."

UEFA has announced the second leg of Arsenal's Europa League round-of-32 tie against Benfica will be played at Olympiacos' Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis.

The first leg has already been moved to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, also in response to coronavirus restrictions.

Manchester City are five points clear at the top of the Premier League after their demolition of defending champions Liverpool last time out.

With Guardiola getting the better of one managerial rival already this term in Jurgen Klopp, City's focus now switches to a clash with Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

Key to City's superb form has been Ilkay Gundogan, who has scored nine goals this season in the league, three more than his previous best of six from 2018-19.

Given he scored twice at Anfield – while also missing a penalty – it would seem a smart decision for fantasy football managers to back Gundogan again this weekend, though which other players should make the cut?

ROBERT SANCHEZ

Another team in fine form as of late have been Brighton and Hove Albion, who have conceded just one goal in their last five top-flight matches, with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez certainly playing his part.

Sanchez ousted Mat Ryan – now on loan at Arsenal – as first choice earlier in the season, and of all goalkeepers to have played at least 10 Premier League games this season, only Ederson (one every 145 minutes) and Edouard Mendy (114 minutes) have a better minutes-per-goal conceded rate than Sanchez (one every 98 minutes). He has played 12 times, conceding 11 goals.

MATT TARGETT

Going up against Brighton this weekend are Aston Villa, and one defender to look out for could be Matt Targett.

Brighton have not scored more than once in a league match since a 3-3 draw with Wolves on January 2, and Villa left-back Targett has been involved in 11 clean sheets this season – more than any other Premier League defender apart from Ruben Dias.

AARON CRESSWELL

If you are looking for a more attacking option, however, then that player may well be West Ham's Aaron Cresswell.

The full-back has registered five league assists this season, second to only Everton's Lucas Digne (six) in terms of defenders, while only Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (38) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw (36) can better his tally of 34 chances created by a defender.

ILKAY GUNDOGAN

In Kevin De Bruyne's absence, Gundogan has come to the fore for Guardiola's team, and the former Borussia Dortmund man is the highest scorer in the Premier League so far in 2021 with seven goals in eight games.

The German's previous seven goals in the competition came over a period of 62 games, dating back to 2018.

JACK GREALISH

With Brighton's Sanchez in such fine form for Brighton, it could be a tough decision for fantasy managers, especially with Jack Grealish being so prominent in Villa's attack.

Grealish, arguably the league's player of the season so far, has been directly involved in five goals in his last five appearances against Brighton in all competitions (four goals, one assist), scoring in his last two games at the Amex.

PATRICK BAMFORD

Leeds United returned to winning ways as they saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 on Monday, with a trip to Arsenal up next on Sunday.

Patrick Bamford scored Leeds' second at Elland Road against Palace, and he has been involved in five goals in his last three Premier League games, netting twice and providing three assists. Eight of his 12 Premier League goals this season have been away from home (67 per cent).

MARCUS RASHFORD

Another forward who has thrived on the road in 2020-21 is Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

He has netted eight times in the Premier League this season, with six of those goals – 75 per cent – having come away from Old Trafford. The England international has never scored more in a single campaign on the road.

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