Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard says he did not insist on a one-to-one conversation with Kepa Arrizabalaga after his latest error and still has faith in the Spain goalkeeper.

The Blues succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday thanks to Isaac Hayden's winner deep into stoppage time.

Questions were once again asked of Kepa, as Hayden got a slight touch on Allan Saint-Maximin's delivery and, although it still appeared to be in the goalkeeper's path, he failed to react quickly enough to keep it out.

It was by no means the first mistake Kepa has made since joining from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 – he also struggled in a similar situation against Ajax this season in the Champions League.

Lampard is keen not to pile the pressure on the 25-year-old, however.

"I'll always defend the players and I think if there are individual errors, then players are the ones who stand and hold their hands up," Lampard told reporters on Monday ahead of Tuesday's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

"I think goalkeepers should be as well, it's quite an isolated, difficult job and the spotlight is really on individually. He's made good saves for us this season and at times he'll have wanted to do better, because he's still relatively young as a goalkeeper and wants to improve, as he should do. He can improve just like all the team can improve.

"I didn't have a direct conversation with him. I'm sensitive to the fact that goalkeepers are under the microscope and that can be tough, but if it's not going for you, like a striker, you have to just work hard and keep your head down and be humble about how you work.

"That's how I push everyone to work. He's a good goalkeeper, we know that. He's saved us points and then there's times when we look and go, 'is it an individual error or a team error?'

"And sometimes the goalkeeper takes the brunt if we haven't defended right as a team. I don't want to dwell on it. If it's not right, we need to make it better."

Lampard also jumped to the defence of his Manchester United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after it emerged Marcus Rashford is set to miss at least six weeks after aggravating a back problem.

The England international came on as a substitute against Wolves and was then forced off again as his injury developed into a double stress fracture, leading to criticism of Solskjaer for bringing him on even though he was involved in Juan Mata's winning goal.

"You can't criticise a manager for making a decision like that," Lampard said. "Rashford has been in incredible form, scored 19 goals and he's a huge factor in their team.

"Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but if you have a player who wants to play even with issues, then you have to make a decision.

"I've heard managers get slated when they turn away from the FA Cup and play a second-string team and now I hear him getting slated for bringing on one of their best players to try and win a game in the cup, so you can't have it both ways."

Sergio Romero was involved in a car crash on Monday, but the Manchester United goalkeeper walked away unharmed.

Images showed Romero's Lamborghini supercar smashed up in the vicinity of United's Carrington training ground.

United confirmed to Omnisport Romero did not suffer any injuries and trained as normal ahead of the Premier League clash with Burnley on Wednesday.

Argentina international Romero is second choice behind David de Gea, though often takes over for cup competitions.

The 32-year-old has made nine appearances this season, having last featured in United's 1-0 win over Wolves in an FA Cup third-round replay last Wednesday.

Signed from Sampdoria in 2015, Romero has played 54 times in total, helping United win the EFL Cup, FA Cup and Europa League during his time at the club.

Gary Neville says the state of Manchester United's squad is "unforgiveable" given the spending levels at Old Trafford and has called for executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to go.

United lost to arch-rivals Liverpool on Sunday, a defeat far more convincing than the 2-0 result suggests, and are now 30 points adrift of the runaway leaders, who are closing in on their first top-flight title in 30 years.

Neville, who won eight Premier League titles during United's reign of dominance under Alex Ferguson, is dismayed and angry at the club's slump and believes now is the time for the Glazer family, who own the club, to act.

He told the Gary Neville podcast: "I can’t believe the investment that’s been put into the squad in the last five, six, seven years and you end up with that out on the pitch.

"I saw a statistic two weeks ago that United have the second-highest wage bill in the world. And that’s the squad they’ve got. It’s unforgivable, it really is.

"I can’t change the ownership of United, no one can. I’m struggling to understand why the ownership have persisted in trusting that management team to oversee the building of a Premier League title winning team since Sir Alex left.

"If you don’t lose your job for essentially overseeing that investment, that wage bill, and putting that team out on the pitch then I have to say something is really wrong.

"There’s real talent in that executive team but in terms of what the club needed to do for a number of years, it's put the best in class football operators into that club and they’re not doing it. They’re not doing it and it’s a mess."

United are still operating without a director of football while doubts persist over the suitability of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

A long-term plan is required but Neville is not convinced the club have the personnel to carry it out.

He added: "Somewhere in the background at United someone has to be plotting the downfall of Liverpool and getting back above them.

"That’s going to take wise, smart, good people, and I’m not sure they’re there."

Manchester United are no closer to concluding their long-running search for a director of football.

Rumours emerged over the weekend indicating the Red Devils were closing in on Lille's Luis Campos, famed for spotting the likes of Kylian Mbappe during his time at Monaco.

But fresh reports in France suggest United will be left frustrated in any bid to lure the Portuguese to Old Trafford.

 

UNITED TARGET NOT INTERESTED IN LEAVING LILLE

Claims that United have commenced negotiations with 55-year-old Campos are wide of the mark, reports Le 10 Sport.

There has apparently been no contact between the parties and, in any case, the former Real Madrid scout is said to have no plans to leave Lille.

United's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday and the loss of Marcus Rashford has exacerbated the need for signings, an area in which Campos was expected to assist.

Campos previously had a long career as a head coach in his native Portugal, where he led Gil Vicente and Beira-Mar among others.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain are in preliminary talks with Neymar's representatives about a contract extension, according to French broadcaster TF1, although the Brazilian would prefer to delay concrete discussions.

- Krzysztof Piatek's proposed switch to Tottenham has stalled over Milan's £30million asking price, claims the Daily Mail.

- Spurs could turn their attention to Leicester City flop Islam Slimani, according to the Telegraph. The 31-year-old is out on loan at Monaco, where he has scored seven goals in 13 Ligue 1 games.

- Inter forward Matteo Politano favours a return to Serie A rivals Roma but may be given the option of leaving San Siro for Sevilla, says Corriere dello Sport.

- LaLiga side Espanyol hope to sign Reinier on loan once the Brazilian teenager's move to Real Madrid goes through, reports Spanish newspaper SPORT.

Jurgen Klopp applauded Liverpool for securing a "dominant" 2-0 win in what he viewed as one of their most captivating matches against Manchester United.

Virgil van Dijk's 14th-minute header and Mohamed Salah's stoppage-time sealer saw off the Red Devils at Anfield on Sunday and sent Liverpool 16 points clear atop the Premier League.

Roberto Firmino had a goal disallowed following a VAR review midway through the first half but the hosts made the result safe when Salah chased down Alisson's long ball, held off Daniel James and completed a scintillating counter-attack.

"It was a really good game, one of the best derbies we have played for sure," Klopp said.

"Very dominant in most periods of the game. I didn't like too much in the first half, the last five or seven minutes. Nothing happened really, just we weren't as dominant as before.

"And obviously the last 10-15, maybe, of the game. Okay, [it was] an exception."

"The start to the second half was absolutely brutal," Klopp continued. "We jumped in and had three, four chances at least. Didn't score and then it's how it always is... the opponent has the chance to come back.

"We had to defend and the organisation was okay. We defended with a lot of passion, a big heart and stuff like this. Carried as well by the atmosphere, which was great.

"And then the last situation of the game - Alisson Becker, what an assist. Mo Salah, what a goal. There was a sprint duel of two really quick boys and Mo used his massive experience. A big relief in that moment."

Liverpool fans sang gleefully about their team's apparent title destiny after full-time and Klopp welcomed the sense of excitement.

"If our fans could not be in a good mood now that would be really strange," he said.

"Of course they are allowed to dream, sing, whatever they want, as long as they do their job as well when we play. All fine. We will not be part of that party yet, but it's no problem - we know our job."

Dreams of Premier League glory began to feel like an inevitability at Anfield as Liverpool beat Manchester United on a weekend that saw Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester City drop points.

Jurgen Klopp's side dispatched their old rivals with goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, leaving Reds supporters full of confidence after Burnley came from behind to beat third-placed Leicester 2-1 at Turf Moor.

There was a surprise result at St. James' Park on Saturday, Frank Lampard's Chelsea dominating for long periods against Newcastle United but succumbing to a late Isaac Hayden goal in a 1-0 defeat.

There were late goals at the Etihad Stadium, where Sergio Aguero thought he had won it with a brace, only for Fernandinho to put through his own net in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

The weekend's Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, as well as Wolves' dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Southampton at St. Mary's.

 

ANFIELD FULL OF HOPE AFTER BACK-TO-BACK HOME WINS OVER UNITED

They are no longer saying it quietly: Liverpool fans firmly believe the title is theirs after watching their side beat United on Sunday.

The victory marked the first time Liverpool have claimed consecutive home Premier League wins over the Red Devils since winning three in a row between September 2008 and March 2011 and there was an air of invulnerability around Anfield at the final whistle.

Liverpool have taken 91 points from a possible 93 in their last 31 Premier League matches, winning 30 and drawing just one, while United have now lost nine of their last 16 top-flight away games (W3 D4 L9).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have failed to score in eight of those games and they gave Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson little to do despite creating a number of goalscoring opportunities.

Alisson kept himself busy by becoming the first Reds keeper to assist a Premier League goal since March 2010, when Pepe Reina laid on a goal against Sunderland.

 

 


LATE HAYDEN WINNER LEAVES LAMPARD'S BLUES REELING

Chelsea have lost as many Premier League games this season as they did in the entirety of 2018-19 after Hayden scored in the 94th minute to snatch victory for Newcastle over Lampard's inconsistent Blues.

Four of Chelsea's eight league defeats this season have come in their last eight matches and supporters making the trip to Tyneside had reason to be fearful of their side coming unstuck.

Chelsea have now lost five of their last seven top-flight trips to St. James' Park but defeats to teams managed by Steve Bruce have been a rare occurrence - this was only the second time he has beaten the Blues in 23 games against them as a manager (D5 L16).

Prior to Hayden's strike, Newcastle had not scored a last-minute winner since Ayoze Perez struck against Tottenham in December 2015.

It was Hayden's third Premier League goal and came in his 70th appearance in the competition, his last coming in February 2019 against Wolves.

 

POROUS CITY PAY FOR ERRORS AT THE BACK

City came from behind to lead with three minutes left in their clash with Palace but conceded at home in the Premier League for the 12th time this season as the Eagles secured a point at the death.

Pep Guardiola's men have now conceded as many goals at home in the league as they did in the whole of last season and this was their third draw of the 2019-20 season - in their title-winning campaign last term they only drew twice.

Aguero's double inside five minutes marked the Argentina international's 250th and 251st goals in all competitions for the club in his 360th appearance, but Fernandinho became the first City player to score a Premier League own-goal since Nicolas Otamendi against Huddersfield Town in November 2017.

The scoring was opened by new signing Cenk Tosun, who netted in the 39th minute to become the fourth Turkish player to reach 10 Premier League goals after Muzzy Izzet, Tuncay Sanli and Tugay.

Palace are ninth in the table after four consecutive draws - the last time they drew as many Premier League games in a row was in 1992-93 when they started the season with the same sequence.

 

WOLVES EMERGING AS COMEBACK SPECIALISTS

When Raul Jimenez scored from the penalty spot at St. Mary's he pulled Wolves level after they had been two goals down, but there was even better to follow for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

Jimenez scored again in the 76th minute, taking his tally to 19 goals in all competitions this season and clinching three points for Wolves that means they have now picked up 18 from losing positions in the Premier League this season - seven more than any other side.

Falling behind after 15 minutes to a Jan Bednarek goal was nothing new for the visitors, who have conceded first in 16 league games this season including each of their last seven in a row.

But Jimenez has been directly involved in 28 goals this season and after Shane Long netted his 54th Premier League goal to make it 2-0 to the Saints, Pedro Neto scored for the second time in his last three league appearances to tee up the Mexico international for a memorable brace.

Jimenez now has 19 goals and nine assists to his name in all competitions this season, giving him more direct goal involvements than any other top-flight player in 2019-20.

Jurgen Klopp has no issue with supporters celebrating as if they have won the Premier League, but says Liverpool are in "exactly the same situation plus three points" after beating Manchester United.

Liverpool defeated United - the only team to take points off them in the league this term - 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

As Klopp's men moved 16 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, fans on Merseyside chanted: "We're going to win the league."

The win, secured with goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, was quickly deemed by many significant in Liverpool's pursuit of a first top-flight championship since 1989-90.

But Klopp was adamant he and his players still could not afford to celebrate.

"[The fans] can sing that, but they sang that a couple of times in the past, I think," he told Sky Sports. "There's absolutely no problem. Everybody should celebrate a situation - apart from us.

"We have no problem with that. There's nothing changed. We have exactly the same situation plus three points, which is great, wonderful, unbelievable. But nothing else has changed.

"I'll tell you immediately the moment it feels different. So far, it feels exactly the same always."

The Liverpool manager added he was looking no further ahead than their next match at Wolves.

Klopp said: "I have no idea if we can be caught or not. First and foremost, it's the Premier League. We play on Thursday against Wolves.

"They played an exceptional comeback last night [a 3-2 win at Southampton]. They have not had the results they wanted, but they've caused us here a lot of problems.

"It's the next massive challenge we face, and why should I think about more than that? I'm not smart enough to do that, to be honest. There's not enough space in my brain.

"We will prepare for Wolves, try our best, and then we will see."

Liverpool were pushed by United prior to Salah's stoppage-time clincher, with Anthony Martial missing a big chance, but Klopp claimed the visitors had set up to "annoy" his side.

"What a performance against an opponent with the quality of United and the set-up of United," he said.

"It was about, and I'm sure Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] would say the same, [United] wanting to annoy us, disrupt our game, defend, counter-attack.

"They had moments when they played football, but it was not too often, and all the other moments were just difficult against them to create chances.

"But we did it. Wow. The manner in which we created chances was really exceptional."

Roy Keane believes Anthony Martial's costly miss against Liverpool showed he is "not quite good enough" to play for Manchester United.

Martial, signed from Monaco in a reported £36million deal in 2015, has 11 goals in all competitions this season.

But he passed up a golden chance for United to equalise at Anfield in their 2-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday.

Trailing to Virgil van Dijk's early header, Martial controlled on his chest on the left-hand side of the penalty area in the second half but blazed over the crossbar with just Alisson to beat.

Mohamed Salah wrapped up a Liverpool victory in stoppage time and former United captain Keane, speaking in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, bemoaned Martial's inability to hit the target.

"Martial has come to Man Utd, and the big strikers score in the big moments," Keane said. "But that miss sums up his career at Man Utd in a nutshell.

"You hit the target. Excellent build-up play, but you have to hit the target. No excuses.

"The big strikers who are remembered by those supporters hit the target and the back of the net.

"That's why that guy is not quite good enough for Man Utd. That moment summed him up."

United are set to be without Martial's strike partner Marcus Rashford - who missed the Liverpool game - for more than six weeks with a double stress fracture in his back.

Now you're gonna believe them.

After Mohamed Salah, at last, scored against Manchester United, as their 2-0 victory was at last assured, Liverpool fans made it clear to the world that they think this, at last, is their year.

"We're going to win the league," they sang, for the first time this season. They're right. Jurgen Klopp won't say the same, not yet, but he must know. Everyone knows.

Sixteen points clear, sixteen games to go. Ninety-one points won from the last 93 available. No league defeats in 12 months. Listening to Anfield on Sunday, the party has already started.

United are the only team to stop Liverpool winning in the Premier League this season, but now they, like 17 others, have tasted defeat to Klopp's relentless Reds (West Ham got a reprieve thanks to the Club World Cup). Discussions about the best ever teams in Merseyside, indeed the country, are for another time. In 2019-20, nobody comes close.

That said, on the evidence of this game and the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October, the gap between these teams in simple quality – in terms of the overall picture of the side – is not quite as yawning as some would think.

Under some dazzling pink skies as the sun set over the stadium, Liverpool were no more sparkling than United were appalling. This wasn't the Liverpool that tore Leicester City to shreds on home turf, nor the United that plumbed new depths of away-day embarrassment at Watford.

Neither was this the mismatch of the EFL Cup semi-final first leg this month at Old Trafford, when it seemed the only reason Manchester City did not try to match their 9-0 destruction of Burton Albion a year ago was because the players wanted a second-half breather.

Yet there is something more redoubtable about this Liverpool than their quality of play. Their greatest weapon, as it is for great sides through history, is a conviction bordering on zealotry that, come what may, they will win the football match.

There was nothing spectacular about the opening goal, nothing to reflect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's glowing praise of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah's bamboozling interplay. It was a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner and a Virgil van Dijk header; a simple cross, a routine forehead finish, straight out of the annals of English football.

But reflected in Van Dijk's fourth league goal of the season was that triumphant certainty that has become the lifeblood of Klopp's team. Alexander-Arnold had a poor game by his standards, but you knew a good cross was coming. Van Dijk was marshalled, but you knew he'd win the header once the United blockers had faltered.

With Liverpool, you just know.

That's where United fall down in comparison. A club that came to define what it means to have a will to win under Alex Ferguson, who watched on from the stands here, has barely an ounce of that same quality these days compared to their great rivals. Solskjaer was right to argue that this Liverpool will only define an era like Ferguson did if they win consecutive titles, but there is no doubt which team best reflects the great Scot.

United had their chances. Good ones. But as Andreas Pereira failed to turn Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross into an open net, as Anthony Martial volleyed over the bar with the goal at his mercy, did anyone really believe they were going to take them? Did they?

United were boosted before kick-off in that Chelsea's loss to Newcastle United meant the gap to the top four was never going to increase. They remain five points behind Frank Lampard's side – at this stage of the season, especially given Chelsea's inconsistency, they will not panic about their Champions League hopes at least.

Their performance in the final 30 minutes was also at least some cause for encouragement. The trouble is, when it comes to United, the next setback never feels far away. Even before kick-off, we learned Marcus Rashford could be out for weeks, maybe months, his back broken from carrying the Red Devils attack.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are disappearing over the horizon, 21 wins from 22 games in their pocket, already thinking of the visit to Wolves next week. Molineux is a dangerous ground for any side these days, a place where City have already lost this season, where United have failed to win in four attempts since last March.

Does anyone think the same thing will happen to Liverpool? They don't.

Virgil van Dijk said the memory of losing the Premier League title race to Manchester City in 2018-19 is keeping Liverpool grounded after his side's 2-0 victory over Manchester United at Anfield.

The Netherlands international scored his side's opener after 14 minutes of a game that threatened to slip through their fingers when the visitors finished strongly, but Mohamed Salah doubled Liverpool's lead in second-half stoppage time to put the Reds 16 points clear at the top of the table.

Chants of "we're going to win the league" rang out around Anfield at the final whistle but Van Dijk insisted the team's focus would immediately be on a difficult trip to Wolves on Thursday.

"Everyone wants us to say something about it but we won't get carried away," Van Dijk told Sky Sports. "We in the squad cannot and we won't.

"I think what we experienced last year is something that made our mentality like this. We just want to go one game at a time, trying to stay fit and improve. Even after today, which was a well-deserved, fantastic win.

"We all know how difficult Wolves is, what good tactics they have, the players they have, the manager is fantastic there. What we try to do is prepare very well, make sure we all recover from this, be 100 per cent.

"We all expect it to be a very tough game. It makes it easy to prepare if you know it's going to be tough and you know there will be difficult moments."

Van Dijk disagreed with the VAR ruling that judged him to have fouled David de Gea in the 25th minute as Liverpool had a Roberto Firmino goal ruled out.

But the Reds, by Van Dijk's own admission, had enough opportunities to put the game out of United's reach before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men caused nervous moments as they probed for a late equaliser.

"I think I didn't jump with my hands up," said Van Dijk, explaining his challenge on De Gea.

"It's difficult to say but if the VAR gives it you just have to accept it and carry on. I thought it was no foul.

"We had plenty more opportunities to score goals today and make it look easy. We had two, three, maybe four clear cut chances to make it easy but you have to find a way and we did."

Marcus Rashford has suffered a double stress fracture in his back and faces at least six weeks out, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed.

England international Rashford hobbled out of the midweek FA Cup win against Wolves, having come on as a substitute.

Solskjaer revealed after the match his striker had already been dealing with a back problem, although he was initially hopeful Rashford would play against Liverpool on Sunday.

Rashford missed the 2-0 defeat and is now facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, dealing a blow to both fifth-placed United, as their topscorer, and England ahead of Euro 2020.

"He's suffered a bad injury," Solskjaer told Sky Sports after the loss at Anfield.

"It's a stress fracture that happened against Wolverhampton, and it's not something that has happened before. It was there and then.

"It's unlucky for Marcus. He'll be out for a while for us. He won't be back until after the mid-season break [in mid-February].

"I don't know how long it is - I'm not a doctor - but normally a stress fracture is six weeks to heal and then he needs some rehab after that probably."

Solskjaer acknowledged United may now have to consider a loan move to bring in cover for Rashford, who has 14 Premier League goals to his name.

"We've had many, many injuries for big players for us this season," he said.

"Now Marcus, Anthony [Martial] has been out for months, Paul [Pogba] has been out for more than half the season, Scott [McTominay] has been out for months. It's just an unfortunate situation we're in.

"Because the window is open, we might look at some short-term deals as well. That could take us through until the summer.

"Desperately [need a signing]? Not desperately. Of course, we're looking at numbers as well. We've had many injuries.

"If the right one's there and it fits for us, we can buy. If there's loans available, it might be possible. But I've got players here as well who are chomping at the bit."

Mohamed Salah joked that Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday because he was back from injury.

Egypt international Salah missed the 1-1 draw between the teams at Old Trafford – the only Premier League game Liverpool have failed to win this season – due to an ankle injury.

In the build-up to the return match at Anfield, the 27-year-old cheekily suggested Jurgen Klopp's side had failed to come out on top because of his absence.

Liverpool moved 16 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City, while still possessing a game in hand, after Salah latched onto a long ball from Alisson following a corner in second-half stoppage time, adding to Virgil van Dijk's opener in the 14th minute.

"As you can see today I get back from the injury so we won the game, so I'm very happy for the team now," Salah joked to Sky Sports. "We enjoy the moment and hopefully we finish like that.

"I got a pass from Alisson, no one else could get me the ball, but I'm very happy for the result, that's the most important thing."

Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title by a single point to City in 2018-19, with a defeat to Pep Guardiola's side in January 2019 shortly followed by a run of four draws in six league games.

Having missed out by such a narrow margin last term, Salah urged his team-mates not to take their foot off the gas. 

"I think we just need to focus on each game, we don't have to think now we've won the Premier League," Salah added.

"We have to keep it game by game, that's the only way we can win the Premier League. We struggled last season at the same time, so we have to keep calm and focus on each game."

Jordan Henderson, who saw a second-half shot tipped onto the post by David de Gea, felt Liverpool were good value for their 2-0 victory but also implored his team-mates not to get ahead of themselves.

"When it's 1-0 it's dangerous, we know that from the Spurs game. I feel as though we should've killed the game off earlier with the chances we had, but we kept going, defended well and managed to get the second in the end, which we deserved I think," said Henderson.

"We're not really thinking about the end again. Why should we change now? Why think about the end of the season? There's still a lot of games left.

"We've taken it by each game for a long time now and it's put us in good stead, so there's no need to change. For us as players it's the next game, the next challenge. United played well at times today but I felt as though we deserved the three points.

"At Liverpool there's always expectation to win and be successful and that hopefully won't change for a very long time."

Liverpool moved 16 points clear at the Premier League summit after Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah secured a deserved 2-0 victory over rivals Manchester United at Anfield.

Second-place Manchester City drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace on Saturday and Liverpool, who still possess a game in hand, took full advantage to tighten their grip at the top and boost their chances of a first league title since 1990.

United are the only team to take points off Jurgen Klopp's men this season and deployed a three-man defence – including Luke Shaw at centre-back – as they did when the teams drew 1-1 at Old Trafford in October.

But Liverpool took just 14 minutes to take the lead through Van Dijk and, despite an improvement from the visitors in the second half, Salah raced away on the break to clinch the three points in second-half stoppage time.

After Fred and Brandon Williams let Van Dijk get loose in the area Harry Maguire was United's last hope, but the Netherlands international leapt above the man who took his tag as the world's most expensive defender to nod in the opener.

Liverpool had what they thought was a second ruled out by VAR in the 25th minute.

David de Gea spilled a high ball under pressure from Van Dijk but referee Craig Pawson did not blow his whistle after putting it to his mouth. Play continued and Roberto Firmino curled home a fine finish, only for the challenge on the United goalkeeper – who received a yellow card for his protests – to be deemed a foul upon review.

Andreas Pereira failed to convert a rare United chance against the run of play from inside the six-yard box, before De Gea managed to keep out Sadio Mane on the stroke of half-time.

Liverpool came flying out of the blocks in the second half, with Salah scuffing a glorious opportunity wide and De Gea brilliantly tipping a venomous drive from Jordan Henderson onto the post.

Anthony Martial showed a lack of composure when he hacked high and wide after a brilliant one-two with Pereira before the hour mark, while Mane passed up an opening after a swift break from the hosts.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer switched to a back four for the final 15 minutes but, as United pushed for an equaliser, Salah punished the visitors by surging clear from a corner and holding off Daniel James to seal the win with a cool finish.
 

What does it mean? United need attacking reinforcements

Solskjaer said pre-game Marcus Rashford was facing "weeks" out with a back injury, though reports subsequently emerged claiming he could be facing up to three months out.

With James and Martial doing little up top, United would be wise to look to the transfer market to bolster their options. Failing to secure the signature of Erling Haaland, who scored a hat-trick after coming off the bench on his Borussia Dortmund debut on Saturday, now looks like even more of a blow.

Van Dijk a colossus

Not only did he score the first goal, Van Dijk was immovable at the heart of Liverpool's defence and comfortably dealt with United's limp attack. His exemplary distribution from the back helped keep Solskjaer's men on the back foot for much of the game.

The Pereira conundrum

Having made a marginal impact as a winger at Valencia, Pereira fared little better when deployed in a deep-lying midfield role last season. He played as a number 10 at Anfield and missed United's best chance while creating just one chance for Martial.

What's next?

Liverpool travel to Molineux to face Wolves on Thursday, with United at home to Burnley a day prior.

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.

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