Marcus Rashford could be out of action for much of the next month with the back injury he sustained against Wolves, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The striker was absent from the squad for Sunday's Premier League trip to Liverpool after failing to recover from the problem that forced him off during the 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay at Old Trafford.

There were some suggestions the injury was more serious than first feared, although Solskjaer insisted this week the club would do everything to help Rashford be ready for the match at Anfield.

However, speaking prior to the game, Solskjaer revealed United are likely to be without their leading goalscorer until after their mid-season break in February.

"He got a couple of knocks again, jolts when he came on against Wolverhampton, and he's aggravated his back," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"He's had some trouble before. We're going to give him time to recover and rest before we put him back on the pitch.

"He's always recovered quickly before, so let's hope he does that again.

"I wouldn't expect him to be back in the next few weeks. We've got a mid-season break, but I'm not sure we're going to see him before then."

After the meeting with Liverpool, United host Burnley in the league on Wednesday before an FA Cup trip to either Watford or Tranmere Rovers next Sunday.

They then face Manchester City away in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final, trailing 3-1 from the first game at Old Trafford.

United face Wolves at home on February 1 and then expect to have 16 days off before heading to Chelsea, with the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Club Brugge taking place three days later.

Marcus Rashford is not in the squad for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield.

The forward misses Sunday's game after failing to recover from a back problem suffered after he came on as a substitute in the FA Cup third-round replay defeat of Wolves.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Andreas Pereira as United's attacking players in what appears to be a similar setup to the 3-5-2 with which they started the 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford in October.

There are suggestions Luke Shaw will join Victor Lindelof and new club captain Harry Maguire in a back three, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams as wing-backs, while Eric Bailly is fit enough only for the bench following his comeback from a serious knee injury.

Liverpool are unchanged from the 1-0 win at Tottenham, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield alongside Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum for Jurgen Klopp's side.

The Reds start the game 13 points clear at the top of the table, with two games in hand over nearest rivals Manchester City.

United are fifth, five points outside the top four and a huge 27 adrift of the league leaders.

Patrice Evra has revealed Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore wrote to him to apologise for the Reds' backing of Luis Suarez following a controversial incident in 2011.

Evra accused Suarez of using a racial slur against him during a match between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool nine years ago.

Suarez was subsequently charged by the Football Association (FA) and banned for eight matches.

Liverpool supported the striker throughout the process, with their players even wearing t-shirts with his name and number on while warming up for a home game.

Jamie Carragher - a key member of Liverpool's team at the time – apologised to Evra while working alongside him as a pundit last October.

The former France full-back has confirmed Liverpool's CEO Moore has also expressed his regret over how the club acted.

"First of all I was really pleased with Jamie Carragher apologising and then I received a personal letter from Peter Moore and I was really touched by it," Evra told Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's clash between the Premier League leaders and United at Anfield. 

"He said he hopes it's never too late, because this incident happened nine years ago. Three days after the show [he made contact] and I said thank you very much, this letter has touched my heart.

"I was really disappointed at such a big club like Liverpool to support [Suarez], but now I can see it’s real, honest people working at this club and I get even more respect for Liverpool because I can see they are fighting this problem with the human race.

"I was really pleased and I just said I hope they do not win the league, but that was three months ago! Even though there is a big rivalry between us, it shows Liverpool is a top-class club."

Liverpool head into the contest 27 points clear of United and a win would see them lead the way at the top by 16 points with a game in hand on second-placed Manchester City.

Benjamin Mendy urged Manchester City to avoid dwelling on predictions of doom for their title defence following Saturday's dispiriting draw against Crystal Palace.

City squandered two precious points at the Etihad Stadium after Fernandinho's 90th-minute own goal forced a 2-2 draw.

Pep Guardiola's men had come from behind to take a late lead but ultimately missed a chance to reduce Liverpool's advantage at the top, which could be extended to 16 points on Sunday.

Mendy admitted his team-mates felt "sad" at full-time, but the left-back backed the Premier League champions to block out criticism.

"When another team is doing well you can't be upset or angry," Mendy said, insisting City would "deal well" with the latest setback in their bid to catch the Reds.

"We know when you start the season, after winning the league, you have to win most of the games. This is the truth, no-one can complain. [Liverpool] are a good team, strong team who win, win and win.

"So, in our dressing room, we try to focus on us.

"All the people say Man City are finished, they're finished. They can say what they want – we will just keep focusing on us, play our football, win the games, and fight until the league is finished."

Beginning with Tuesday's trip to Sheffield United, City have at least six domestic games - and a seventh if they progress to round five of the FA Cup - to address their deficiencies before facing Real Madrid in the first leg of a much-anticipated Champions League last-16 tie.

Mendy said the countdown to that Santiago Bernabeu blockbuster would elevate the team's motivation levels.

"That will be another kind of game – Champions League, big game," he said.

"Every game is big, but everyone knows that this game will be watched by everyone so mentally you have a feeling, the atmosphere, how you come to the game puts you on fire, [gets you] excited.

"We will be focused on Sheffield now."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful of emulating the success of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and says Manchester United's bitter rivals are deserving of respect.

Liverpool are on course for a first top-flight crown since 1990 as they find themselves 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League with two games in hand.

The Champions League holders lifted the Club World Cup in December and can take another giant stride towards more silverware when hosting United on Sunday.

United are the only side to have taken league points off Liverpool this term, doing so in a 1-1 draw in October, and Solskjaer admires what Klopp has achieved in five seasons at Anfield.

"He's a great manager and he's done a great job," Solskjaer told United's official website. "He did a rebuilding job and he started almost from scratch. 

"We've started something, we want to get back to challenging for the league. They are now challenging for the league, so well done. 

"He's a very nice man, as well. He's a good manager and, of course, we do respect them. They have proven with their results and performances that they do deserve that respect. 

"I think we've shown them in the games that I've been here that we do prepare very well."

Fifth-placed United trail runaway leaders Liverpool by 27 points and are winless in their last four trips to Anfield in all competitions.

However, Liverpool have won just one of their last 11 league encounters with United and Solskjaer is taking confidence from the draw at Old Trafford three months ago.

"As a manager, I've had Liverpool on the opposite side twice and we've had different ways of approaching it," he said.

"Just go there and have the confidence, the courage and the arrogance - in a good way. Go there and believe in yourself. Handle the crowd, handle your team-mates. 

"There are going to be tackles flying in - it's a local derby. Just win your individual battles and stay emotionally in the game. Control yourselves and just play the game."

Jurgen Klopp claimed Manchester United have assembled one of Europe's strongest squads as he warned Liverpool not to underestimate Sunday's opponents.

The bitter rivals drew 1-1 at Old Trafford in October – the only time this season Liverpool have dropped points in the league – but are separated by 27 points going into the reverse fixture at Anfield.

Liverpool are expected to take another step towards a maiden Premier League title but manager Klopp urged his players to treat Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side with caution.

United edged a strong Wolves outfit 1-0 in the FA Cup in midweek and have the chance to close to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

"As a fellow manager it is easy to see the progress they make, although others on the outside are often not so quick to recognise," Klopp said in his club's matchday programme.

"They have recruited some exceptional players and the evolution of their squad makes them one of the strongest in Europe, I would say.

"Look at their talent from the keeper through to the forwards. They have world-class talent in that team and a squad full of match-winners. Big investment has resulted in a very strong group.

"Of course, looking to build something takes time. We know this ourselves. But they build with outstanding results and performances as a foundation.

"Their win this week in the FA Cup against Wolves was yet more evidence of how dangerous they are."

United's hopes of springing an upset will be pinned on repeating the kind of counter-attacking performance that brought Manchester City undone at the Etihad Stadium in December.

However, Klopp insisted there was more evidence than just the Manchester derby to indicate his team are in for a difficult 90 minutes.

"I have no idea how this contest has been billed externally but I also couldn't care less," the German said.

"I know how we have prepared and I know the respect we will show United."

"If anyone thinks that win at City is the only signpost of danger, then they are silly and underestimating," he added.

Manchester City without Pep Guardiola?

Speculation over Guardiola's future is not going away, with Premier League champions City set to be dethroned by Liverpool this season.

And a move to Paris Saint-Germain could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARE MAMMOTH GUARDIOLA OFFER

French champions Paris Saint-Germain are trying to lure Pep Guardiola from Manchester City, according to the Express.

Amid uncertainty over Guardiola's future, the Ligue 1 holders are ready to make a huge offer to tempt the City manager to Paris.

Guardiola, whose side appear set to finish some distance behind Liverpool in the Premier League, has also been linked with a return to Barcelona, despite their appointment of Quique Setien this week.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Mirror, Premier League leaders Liverpool and rivals Chelsea will battle it out for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

- Juventus midfielder and former Liverpool star Emre Can is wanted by Everton, reports The Mirror. Can is out of favour in Turin and has been previously linked to Manchester United.

- Il Corriere dello Sport claims Sevilla want to sign Inter midfielder Matias Vecino, who appears destined to leave Milan ahead of Christian Eriksen's reported arrival from Tottenham.

- Speculation over Bruno Fernandes' future is set to drag on. Although he has been tipped to join United, Sporting CP and the Red Devils are reportedly miles apart in their valuations of the captain. While United want to bring in Fernandes this month, the Standard says they are threatening to abandon their pursuit over fears it could damage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's transfer plans at the end of the season. Over-paying for Fernandes has prompted concerns it could impact United's interest in Leicester City star James Maddison and Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho.

Real Madrid are unwilling to loan out James Rodriguez, with Marca reporting the LaLiga giants are only interested in selling the Colombia international.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard said the Blues cannot rely on striker Tammy Abraham after their shock 1-0 Premier League loss away to Newcastle United.

Isaac Hayden snatched a last-gasp winner as Chelsea failed to make their dominance count in a dramatic defeat to Newcastle at St James' Park on Saturday.

Chelsea had almost 70 per cent of the possession but the visitors were unable to find the back of the net, with Abraham spurning two great chances.

It was the first time Chelsea failed to score away from home in the Premier League this season since their opening-day rout at Manchester United.

"We can't absolutely rely on Tammy Abraham," Lampard told reporters post-match of the 22-year-old England international, who has scored 13 league goals this season.

"We have to have goals from across the frontline if we want to bridge the gap upwards. Tammy has been fantastic this season - it didn't quite come off for him today but that’s football.

"I can't complain about anything from the team really. Of course we don't want to give headers away in our box, they're big and that happens but other than that, we gave everything we could to try to win the game."

Asked if Chelsea can address their attacking issues in the transfer market, Lampard replied: "We'll see.

"I think you can address it on the training ground with the players. But we can't practice finishing, we can't practice entering the final third more than what we do. When we are on the pitch and in games we have to be more clinical, the players know that.

"I am very pleased with the players we have got. We have a lot of talent in this team, but sticking the ball in the back of the net is a huge thing and if we want to do it as a club going forward, this season and next season going forward and we are controlling games as we are, then we have to score goals."

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Liverpool are not the greatest team in Premier League history, highlighting Alex Ferguson's record with the Red Devils.

Liverpool are on track for their first league title since 1990 as Jurgen Klopp's unbeaten Reds top the Premier League by 13 points with games in hand.

The Champions League holders can take another step towards the title when they welcome rivals United to Anfield on Sunday.

However, Solskjaer – who claimed six Premier League trophies and the Champions League as a player under legendary manager Ferguson – insisted longevity is the key to greatness.

"If you are taking the long view, the very best teams are the ones who can do it again and again and again," Solskjaer said.

"No one really matches Sir Alex in that respect but I would be the first to admit Jurgen Klopp has done a great job at Liverpool.

"At the moment he seems to know what he’s going to get every time he puts a team out, though we are only just past halfway through the season and there are still a lot of games to go.

"If you look at Liverpool now, they have 33 wins and five draws from their last [their last] 38 [league] games. That's 104 points, so it would have been a more than decent season.

"They are doing well, to say the least, and could win a treble this season but let's see where they are in May. They have a couple of difficult games coming up."

United are fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and 27 points adrift of Liverpool.

 

Frank Lampard insists Chelsea cannot do more than they already are doing in training to improve their finishing and has urged his team to find a "killer instinct" in front of goal.

Chelsea failed to make a dominant display count as Isaac Hayden's last-gasp header handed Newcastle United a 1-0 win in Saturday's Premier League encounter at St James' Park.

While Joelinton had earlier hit the bar for the home side, Tammy Abraham spurned two glorious chances, while Willian had also failed to take a good opportunity.

Lampard offered no excuses for the defeat, though, insisting Chelsea only have themselves to blame as he acknowledged his side's deficiency in regards to goals from their attacking players.

"It's football, you have to get your head around it very quickly. I'm not always massive on stats but the feel of the game was domination," Lampard told Sky Sports.

"They hit the bar with a header, one of I think three headers they had in the game and they scored with one of them. Other than that, second half I don't remember them endangering our box, we were camped around their box and creating chances.

"We know we have problems at the top of the pitch, scoring goals. We don't get enough front-line goals if we want to bridge the gap and that's something we've seen a lot this season, especially at home. 

"Today was like a home game in how we performed on the pitch and if you don't score then you're always liable to a sucker punch and we got it.

"It's something we need to address, the instinctive nature to score the goal. We're working on it.

"We need to be clinical. We can't make any bones about it, it's a reality. We can't work anymore in training on finishing. You have to have that killer instinct in front of goal. We need to score more goals from front-line areas to get where we need to be."

Lampard insisted in his pre-match news conference that he would not be drawn into making any "kneejerk" signings.

However, he conceded it is clear Chelsea need reinforcements in the final third.

"It doesn't matter until it's done," Lampard said when he was asked if any incomings were close.

"It's quite clear that I know where we need to strengthen, so we'll see."

Isaac Hayden snatched a last-gasp winner as Chelsea failed to make their dominance count in a dramatic 1-0 Premier League defeat to Newcastle United at St James' Park.

Heading into Saturday's fixture on the back of a 3-0 demolition of Burnley, Chelsea had almost 70 per cent of the possession, yet could not pick their way through Steve Bruce's well-drilled side and came unstuck in the final minute of stoppage time.

Having cleared a corner, Chelsea switched off when the ball was worked back in, giving Hayden the chance to head in from point-blank range, though Kepa Arrizabalaga could have done better.

Prior to Hayden's winner, it had been all Chelsea, with Tammy Abraham spurning two great chances, though Joelinton had hit the crossbar midway through the second half.

Ultimately, though, the Blues' dominance counted for nothing as Frank Lampard's fourth-placed side suffered their first defeat in four top-flight matches.

Mikel Arteta said Arsenal "gave away two points" after a late goal from John Fleck earned Sheffield United a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium and bemoaned a shortage of defenders.

Gabriel Martinelli put the Gunners ahead with his ninth goal of the season at the end of the first half on Saturday and Arsenal continued to dominate the game until the last 10 minutes.

Yet Arteta could only watch on as Callum Robinson's cross found Fleck, who rifled home an equaliser his side barely deserved.

"I am very disappointed. We gave away two points," Gunners head coach Arteta said.

"There is a history of giving away goals. In the Premier League when you're 1-0 up anything can happen.

"I think they all went full gas and tried really hard. Maybe in the first five minutes we tried to figure out the game but later they changed system and it was harder to control."

With Kieran Tierney and Calum Chambers injured, Arteta selected Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka and admitted the shortcomings of his two makeshift full-backs were exposed for the equaliser.

"When we analyse the opponent we can try to ask Ainsley and Bukayo a lot of things but they are not full-backs," Arteta added.

"These things will happen."

Chris Wilder admitted his side were short of their best but gave them credit for salvaging a point that leaves the seventh-placed Blades with just two defeats in 12 Premier League away games this season.

Only Manchester City and Liverpool have beaten Wilder's men on the road, but he reflected on a tough game at the Emirates, saying: "It was one of our poorer performances. Nobody built up momentum in the game because both sides gave away the ball.

"Not surprised we went in behind but I'm pleased we got a point. Our attitude always gives us a chance so credit to the players but we need to play better.

"We had a lot of apprehension coming into the division but we have a group that challenges each other. I think it's a really good story with where our players have come from and the key is to turn that into a fantastic story."

Fernandinho's stoppage-time own goal gave Crystal Palace a 2-2 draw at Manchester City, while Wolves fought back from two down to beat Southampton and Norwich City claimed a huge Premier League win on Saturday.

Cenk Tosun's first Palace goal put the London club in front, but Aguero equalised with his 250th for City eight minutes from time before putting the second-placed champions in front at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side were unable to see it out, though, as Fernandinho turned the ball into his own net to leave City 13 points behind leaders Liverpool, who play Manchester United in one of their two games in hand on Sunday.

Resurgent Saints looked set to move into the top half when they were two up at St Mary's Stadium, but Raul Jimenez's double after a Pedro Neto strike moved Wolves up to sixth.

Norwich striker Teemu Pukki scored the only goal against second-bottom Bournemouth, who had defender Steve Cook sent off for a spectacular save, while fellow strugglers Aston Villa drew 1-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion.

John Fleck rescued a 1-1 draw for Sheffield United at Arsenal, while it was the same scoreline in the clash between David Moyes' West Ham and his former club Everton.

 

CITY SLIP UP DESPITE AGUERO BRACE 

Palace claimed a stunning 3-2 win at City last season and looked like picking up another three points until Aguero intervened with a late brace.

New boy Tosun headed the Eagles into a first-half lead with his first goal for the club, but the leading overseas scorer in Premier League history levelled to take his City tally to 250 and struck again with time running out.

VAR overturned a penalty decision after Jairo Riedewald was penalised for handball before Aguero equalised and there was more drama when Wilfried Zaha squared the ball, with Fernandinho turning it into his own net.

 

WOLVES BRING SAINTS BACK DOWN TO EARTH

Saints, on a high after five wins and a draw from their last six games, appeared to be making further strides up the table after Jan Bednarek and Shane Long put them in command at half-time.

But Wolves were transformed after the break, Neto giving them hope and the clinical making Jimenez no mistake from the penalty spot following a VAR intervention for Jack Stephens' challenge on Jonny.

Jimenez was on target again to win in 13 minutes from time, Adama Traore setting the striker up with his second assist, to give Wolves a first win in five in all competitions.

 

CHERRIES PAY THE PENALTY FOR IMPULSIVE COOK STOP

Norwich claimed their first top-flight win since November courtesy of a Pukki penalty as Bournemouth endured another miserable afternoon at Carrow Road.

Pukki converted from 12 yards 33 minutes in after Cherries defender Steve Cook made an acrobatic one-handed stop to keep out Kenny McLean's goal-bound shot.

Cook was given his matching orders and there was no way back for Bournemouth, who have picked up only four points from their last 12 games, as Norwich held on despite Ben Godfrey's dismissal 13 minutes from time.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lamented the poor defending that allowed Crystal Palace to escape with 2-2 draw after a thrilling finish at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts were behind for the bulk of the contest after Cenk Tosun's 39th minute opener but Sergio Aguero punctuated the frustration with his 250th goal in City colours eight minutes from time.

Aguero duly headed home Benjamin Mendy's cross to put Guardiola's men ahead but there was a sting in the tail and Wilfried Zaha tore past the timid efforts of John Stones and forced Fernandinho to put through his own goal.

"We have to avoid the mistake we have made on the second goal," Guardiola told a post-match news conference.

"Just do not allow Zaha to run, it’s that simple. And we allowed it.

"No [it was not a loss of concentration], it was a decision. Concentration was always there. We are going to solve it and improve it.

"In those positions we need to have the back four there and not let them run on this counter-attack."

Although he did not name the England international specifically, this felt like a damning indictment of Stones' efforts in what has been a difficult campaign for a centre-back frequently short of form and fitness.

At the end of his forlorn pursuit of Zaha, Stones appeared to jar a knee but Guardiola could not offer a fitness update.

"I didn't see the doctors. Now we are going to see," he said.

Champions City are 13 points behind leaders Liverpool having played two games more and Guardiola gave a weary response to a question over whether the title race was still alive – suggesting he might be better served preparing for his team's Tuesday assignment at Sheffield United as opposed to watching Manchester United's trip to Anfield on Sunday.

"I answered the question millions of times in the past few weeks," he added.

"Maybe I will watch it, maybe I will see Sheffield United. I don't know."

City thought they had a penalty at 1-0 down, only for referee Graham Scott to overturn his decision after a VAR review of the incident when Jairo Riedewald deflected Raheem Sterling's cross on to his own arm.

Guardiola said of the incident. "I don’t know the rule of the hands, honestly. It looks like hands, but…"

Barcelona and Juventus are in talks about a possible swap deal involving Ivan Rakitic and Federico Bernardeschi.

Rakitic was linked with an exit from Camp Nou during the close season, but ended up staying at Barca.

But he could be on his way to Turin and Bernardeschi may be heading in the opposite direction.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, JUVE IN RAKITIC-BERNARDESCHI SWAP TALKS

Barcelona and Juventus are discussing a possible swap deal involving Rakitic and Bernardeschi, according to AS.

The report says Rakitic – who has made just six LaLiga starts this season – has already agreed personal terms with the Serie A giants.

However, the clubs are yet to reach an agreement, with Rakitic six years older than Italy international Bernardeschi.

ROUND-UP

- There is still work to be done if Bruno Fernandes is to find his way to Manchester United. The Daily Mail and The Sun report United want to pay Sporting CP £34million (€39.9m) with a further £25.5m (€29.9m) in add-ons, including bonuses for the English club winning the Premier League and Champions League.

- Atletico Madrid are not giving up on trying to land Edinson Cavani in this window. The LaLiga side are still eyeing a move for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, according to Marca, although they are hoping to negotiate a lower price than the €30m the Ligue 1 club are reportedly wanting.

- The wait continues for Inter as they try to sign Christian Eriksen. CalcioMercato reports Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots is scheduled to meet Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy in London next week as the midfielder tries to get his move to the Serie A giants.

- Chelsea are favourites to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to The Sun, but it may take a £68m (€79.8m) deal to land the 23-year-old.

- Arsenal are set for talks with Athletico Paranaense to negotiate a deal for midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to Globo Esporte.

- Staying at Arsenal and France Football reports Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa has agreed to join the Premier League club for free at season's end.

- Javier Hernandez will become one of the highest paid players in MLS. Sports Illustrated reports LA Galaxy will pay Sevilla $9.4m (€8.5m) for the forward, who is set to earn $6m annually, with the potential for that to rise due to bonuses.

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