Dean Smith took scant consolation from pushing Premier League champions Liverpool close after Aston Villa fell to a 2-0 defeat, insisting he had no love for the "valiant loser" tag.

The Villa boss set his side up to defend at Anfield and the visitors did frustrate the home side until Sadio Mane's 71st-minute opener.

Curtis Jones doubled the Reds' lead late on as Villa's winless run in the league was extended to nine games on Sunday.

Smith noted that his side had more shots than Jurgen Klopp's men, who lost their previous game 4-0 to Manchester City, but still the overwhelming feeling was one of disappointment.

"I don't want to be a valiant loser, we're scrapping for points," Smith told Sky Sports.

"To out-shoot Liverpool at home at Anfield, in terms of efforts on goal, it's excellent – but we need to take our opportunities. We never found the quality in the final third, they did.

"Was it the best time to come to Anfield? Jurgen Klopp teams don't take their foot off the gas, I don't thank him for bringing the three subs on, that strengthened them but we were in the game the whole way through.

"Unfortunately they beat our press with their quality in the end."

Next up for Villa is Thursday's visit of a buoyant Manchester United, who put five past Bournemouth on Saturday.

With his side still occupying the relegation zone, Smith knows the route to safety will be a difficult one.

"It's a tough task but we're still in it that's for sure," he said. "Our performances since the restart haven't got the results they deserved. We have got to make the most of our chances.

"We need to keep the belief in the dressing room, it's some achievement to come here and play as we did but we have to maintain the belief. I thought we more than matched them."

Jurgen Klopp highlighted Liverpool's 2-0 win over Aston Villa as a prime example of why his side are Premier League champions. 

The Reds, playing their first game at Anfield since ending a 30-year title drought, were made to work hard by their relegation-threatened visitors. 

Late goals from Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones got the job done as Klopp's side continued their 100 per cent home record in the league in the 2019-20 campaign. 

And the German, who was left angered by Thursday's 4-0 loss to Manchester City, felt it showed just why his side have reigned supreme this season. 

"A very difficult game for different reasons," Klopp told Sky Sports. 

"Villa are obviously organised and made it tricky for us. The wind made it tricky for both, but it was really hard to play normal football. 

"We had to stay on track and do the right things and in the second half we had more of the good moments. You could see we needed time to get used to it." 

The result took Liverpool to 89 points, within 11 of City's record tally, but Klopp insists that was not on his mind on Sunday. 

"The only thing I can say is there's no chance to win records if you constantly think about records," he said. 

"We don't want a record we want the three points. We don't think about these things, three points is difficult enough. 

"Aston Villa was fighting with all they had and it makes life uncomfortable. I like it, it was not a brilliant performance but it was a good performance that gets us three points." 

Mane echoed his manager's sentiments after scoring his 50th goal at Anfield for Liverpool. 

"We pushed as a team until the end and created some chances. It wasn't an easy game but at least we deserved these three points," he told Sky Sports. 

"I think sometimes you can't expect always to score four or five against a good opponent. They were really organised and we were playing patiently until the gaps opened and we scored the two goals. 

"For us right now it is most important to win games, then you can think about records. 

"We have important games and we will try to play game by game. It won't be easy but that is the Premier League – it is always difficult." 

Liverpool won their first game at Anfield as Premier League champions as a 2-0 victory piled the misery on relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

Having been angered by the Reds' 4-0 loss to Manchester City on Thursday, Jurgen Klopp saw his side triumph on Sunday even if the performance still left much to be desired.

Sadio Mane's 71st-minute goal broke the visitors' stubborn resolve before Curtis Jones added late gloss as Dean Smith's men, winless in nine in the league, remained in the bottom three.

For Liverpool, this was not the celebratory homecoming they would have envisaged after a first top-flight title in 30 years but their march towards the 100-point barrier continues.

A tepid first half made very clear that Villa's game plan was to sit deep and frustrate Liverpool, who simply could not find a way through.

Indeed, when the first shot on target finally arrived in the 33rd minute it was Alisson who was called into action and not former Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

That Douglas Luiz strike, easily dealt with by Alisson, proved to be the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock before the interval.

With Liverpool having won their previous 23 home league matches, they were always likely to emerge victorious in this one and Klopp's side got the job done in the second half.

The German made a triple change on the hour mark, introducing Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum.

And finally, the breakthrough came. Mane – who scored a 94th-minute winner in the reverse fixture – stroked home from Naby Keita's assist via the underside of the crossbar to register his 50th Anfield goal for Liverpool.

Jones, who signed a new contract this week, was introduced in the 85th minute and scored his first Premier League goal four minutes later, steering into the bottom-left corner from Mohamed Salah's knockdown. 

What does it mean? Reds still rolling towards history

Liverpool are now 11 points shy of the century mark and that is a tally they will be eager to reach to cap this remarkable campaign in style. Villa, meanwhile, are running out of time to put enough points on the board to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Mane the man for Liverpool

In a poor game of precious few chances, Mane had to step up when the time came, and he did just that. The Senegalese connected well with Keita's low cross and that strike took the wind out of Villa's sails, leaving them vulnerable to another setback, which Jones duly provided.

Robertson off his game

Andrew Robertson's stellar form this season has been one of the many highlights for Liverpool, but he has now turned in a couple of off-colour displays. The full-back was arguably the worst of a bad bunch at City and was only marginally better here, in far less testing circumstances.

What's next?

Brighton and Hove Albion will be the next team to form a guard of honour for the champions when Liverpool head to the south coast on Wednesday, while Villa must defeat in-form Manchester United on Thursday if they are to avoid having their winless run taken into double figures.

Jurgen Klopp will make sure all members of his squad receive a medal to celebrate Liverpool winning the Premier League, no matter how many games they have played during the season. 

Players need to have made five league appearances to get a medal and the vast majority of the Reds' first-team group have already qualified under the competition's criteria. 

However, youngsters Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams are currently under the threshold with six games remaining, potentially leaving Klopp with a dilemma over whether to give them minutes with the title already sewn up. 

Yet Liverpool's German boss believes they have already done enough to deserve one for their efforts in training throughout the campaign - and is even willing to give his own medal away to make sure every player is recognised for helping to end the club's 30-year wait to be crowned champions again. 

"I'd rather they think about the [five appearances] rule again, make it happen that if you have played one game then you should have a medal," Klopp told the media. 

"Five games? I’m not sure who came up with that idea. I don't think that it's a good rule because people don't understand how important the squad is to win a championship, then I cannot help the people to be honest.  

"If you have no games, you should still get a medal. If you're the second goalkeeper in a team and you have less games, you should get a medal. 

"You train five million times over a year and if you don't train at the highest level you have no chance to win a championship.  

"Someone decided you have to play five games to win a medal? These boys will get a medal, 100 per cent. I will produce it myself. They can have my medal.  

"We have to win football games; it's not about giving appearances away here and there. They deserve a medal and they will get a medal, if not from the Premier League then from me." 

The next opportunity for those on the fringes to play could come on Sunday when Liverpool take on relegation-threatened Aston Villa at Anfield.

Late goals from Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane secured a dramatic 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture at Villa Park, much to Klopp’s delight. However, it was the team's desire to keep going until the end, rather than the three points, that pleased him the most.

"I thought it was so important because the season before showed us that we have to be pretty much perfect to have a chance to win the league. City usually wins all their games, which was obviously the case the year before," Klopp said. 

"We equalised with the pressure we made in that situation, but I was not too surprised. What I loved most in that game was how we took the ball actually. Everybody knew, while we don’t know if we can win the game, we should at least give it a proper try."

Jurgen Klopp rejected any talk of focus being shifted to next season as Premier League champions Liverpool look to bounce back from defeat at Manchester City when they face Aston Villa.

The Reds welcome Villa to Anfield on Sunday, having succumbed to a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of City in their first game since dethroning Pep Guardiola's men.

Afterwards, Sterling said that "next season started today" for City, who can still complete a treble by adding the FA Cup and Champions League to their EFL Cup triumph.

Klopp dismissed those comments, however, insisting both Liverpool and City are firmly focused on this campaign, even though his side have no more trophies to play for.

"City is not thinking about next season, we don't think about next season, we think about this season," Klopp told a media conference.

"City has a lot to go for, we have a lot to go for. We have six football games, we felt last night how difficult it is.

"The desire and the greed that we saw last night, that's why we are where we are. We will not stop being like this but we have to be 100 per cent concentrated in all moments of the game and especially against City because they use all little moments of the game.

"That's why I do not think about the next six games, only about Aston Villa. I cannot do it differently, I have not a big plan but we will have a plan for Aston Villa."

Victories against Villa, Burnley and Chelsea will see Liverpool go the entire league season without dropping a point at Anfield.

Asked about that possibility, Klopp said: "We never thought about it, how long the run is or whatever. We have to respect Aston Villa and respect their situation. We know their situation.

"Aston Villa has a lot of quality, they do well defending in a compact formation. That's what I'm thinking about, not the records we can break. We have to break the formation of Aston Villa, that's what we are concerned about.

"This season is a very special season, special for us in a positive way and special from a challenging point of view, not only that we had a three-month break in the middle of the season, as well we play now in the last three weeks six games.

"That's really demanding for all of us. We have to really dig in in this situation, that's what I like from the game last night as well.

"The attitude was brilliant, we were really fighting, the desire was there. We were in four moments not focused. We have to make sure we don't have moments like this on Sunday."

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

Barcelona midfielder Arthur and Juventus' Miralem Pjanic are seemingly getting closer to swapping clubs.

The LaLiga and Serie A giants have been linked with numerous moves this close season, but one may be getting close to completion.

Arthur and Pjanic are set to trade places and it could be close to reality.

 

TOP STORY – ARTHUR, PJANIC SET FOR MEDICALS IN TURIN

Barcelona midfielder Arthur and Juventus' Pjanic will undergo medicals on Sunday, according to Sport.

The Catalan sports paper says Arthur flew to Italy on Saturday accompanied by a Barcelona doctor ahead of checks in Turin.

Arthur will then return to Barcelona and finish the season with the LaLiga champions, who slipped up again in their title defence on Saturday as Celta Vigo twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United may still be trying to find a way to land Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho. The Mirror reports United need to sell at least four stars – including Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard – if they are to get a deal done for Sancho.

- Staying at Old Trafford and United could be getting closer to signing Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish. The Daily Express says Grealish has found a house to buy in the North West.

- Chelsea may yet strengthen further ahead of next season. According to The Sun, they are growing confident they will sign West Ham star Declan Rice in the close season.

- Arsenal's decision to re-sign David Luiz has been criticised. However, The Telegraph reports the Brazilian defender agreed to a significant pay cut.

- Tanguy Ndombele's future may be at Tottenham. Football.London reports Spurs have no plans to sell Ndombele at the end of the season, with Jose Mourinho having denied reports of a rift with the midfielder earlier this week.

Wolves claimed a slender 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa to move above Manchester United in the Premier League table, Leander Dendoncker securing their third successive victory.

A dour first half passed with little incident, but Wolves upped the ante after the break with Adama Traore's introduction from the bench in the 60th minute making a difference.

The explosive winger played a role in the winner less than two minutes later, finding Raul Jimenez, whose brilliant pass subsequently picked out Jonny Castro on the edge of the box and he teed up Dendoncker, his left-footed effort finding the bottom-right corner.

Villa applied pressure towards the end but lacked cutting edge, the defeat robbing them of the chance to move out of the bottom three, while Wolves will stay fifth – two points behind Chelsea, who have played a game less – at least until United go to Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

Anthony Martial scored Manchester United's first Premier League hat-trick since 2013 to boost their Champions League hopes further with a 3-0 win over Sheffield United.

Martial netted twice in the first half as he capitalised on poor Blades defending, and he ended United's wait for a treble scorer, which had stretched back to Robin van Persie more than seven years earlier, in the 74th minute.

United stay fifth but put no breathing room between themselves and sixth-placed Wolves, who dealt Bournemouth's hopes of survival a further blow as Raul Jimenez sealed a 1-0 win at Molineux.

Bournemouth are third-bottom but are only above second-bottom Aston Villa on goal difference. Ahmed El Mohamady earned Villa a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United, his header cancelling out Dwight Gayle's second-half strike.

Villa, Bournemouth and fourth-bottom West Ham are all on 27 points as the fight for survival looks set to go to the wire.

Norwich City look less and less likely to succeed in hauling themselves out of danger, the league's bottom club condemned to another defeat at Carrow Road after Michael Keane gave Everton a 1-0 win. The Canaries are six points adrift of safety with seven to play.

Frank Lampard believes Christian Pulisic has the hunger and ability to become a regular goalscorer for Chelsea following his strike against Aston Villa.

Pulisic netted five minutes after being brought off the bench in Sunday's 2-1 comeback win at Villa Park as the visitors recovered from a goal down.

The United States international converted Cesar Azpilicueta's cross at the back post to cancel out Kortney Hause's opener, before Olivier Giroud added a quickfire second.

And Lampard expects even more from a fit-again Pulisic, who was making his first appearance since New Year's Day after struggling with a groin issue.

"He was hungry. I know that and I felt for him as I felt for all the players with long-term injuries," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] was in the same position, but I know Christian was very hungry. He has trained well. The ability that he has got to arrive in the box is a big thing that I have spoken to him about all season. 

"It is the difference between being a very good player off-the-side as an attacking player or the players at the real top level of the game that arrive and score in the six-yard box and hit big numbers yearly. 

"I really think Christian can do that so I was pleased with the impact he made when he came on. He will start games for us, of course. I think he is going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in, but going forward."

Ross Barkley, another who has struggled with injuries, also made a big impression during his 35 minutes on the field and Lampard is pleased with the depth of his squad.

"The players who make the differences should always take all the credit. With Christian and Ross, they came on at the same time and have trained well," he said.

"They both had cases to start but I have some good selection problems. Then you have to consider the type of game and that fitness will play a part. 

"Bringing on Christian and Barkley early in the second half was always in my mind depending on how the game went. 

"The way it was going we needed a bit of inspiration, Christian with his goal and Ross did as well. I think it shows how important subs are."

Chelsea now hold a five-point lead over fifth-placed Manchester United after winning away from home in the top flight for the first time in 2020.

Lampard, taking charge of his 100th game as manager, acknowledged the importance of picking up a victory in his side's first game back following the three-month hiatus.

"I am really pleased with the performance," he added. "Aston Villa had the chance to [play a game] once before us, but I think we moved the ball well during the game and dominated possession. 

"It's been a little bit of our story this season, dominating possession but the need to be more clinical. 

"I can definitely give the players some leeway on that one because of the long time off. We showed great quality and character to win the game. I am pleased with the win.

"I think it is important for the group because I think we have seen all the games are looking different. 

"It is an obvious statement with the crowds, but in terms of the actual detail of the games and the tempo, the matches, the tiredness factor that has been coming into them too.

"So we didn't know exactly what we were coming into today but now we have three points when some teams have lost points around us."

Christian Pulisic is looking forward to linking up with Timo Werner next season, describing Chelsea's latest acquisition as an "incredible" bit of business. 

It was confirmed this week that the Blues will sign Germany international Werner, who is thought to be leaving Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in a £47.5million (€53m) deal. 

Werner has scored 26 goals as well as providing eight assists in 32 Bundesliga games this season and the 24-year-old striker had been linked with Liverpool. 

However, he will move to Chelsea next season, along with Ajax's Hakim Ziyech, providing Frank Lampard's side with an abundance of attacking talent that Pulisic is excited to be a part of. 

"We already have a very strong team and obviously very good players," the former Borussia Dortmund forward told Sky Sports after the Blues' 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday. 

"To add guys like [Werner] is incredible. We're obviously focused on this season for now but we're also very excited for what's to come." 

Pulisic made the move from the Bundesliga to Stamford Bridge ahead of this season in a £58m deal, and his sixth goal of the season helped Chelsea come from behind to beat Villa. 

The American had only been on the pitch for five minutes when he steered in Cesar Azpilicueta's cross to cancel out Kortney Hause's opener, with Olivier Giroud netting the winner two minutes later.  

A groin injury and the coronavirus-enforced break meant Pulisic had not played since January 1, and the 21-year-old was delighted to be back. 

"I've definitely been out for a while, felt really nice to be back out here, especially for me after the injury," he added. 

"Obviously all the guys have been off, but we've been trying to stay fit as best we can and now we've got to get back into the rhythm of things." 

Chelsea had seen top-four rivals Manchester United, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal all drop points before they returned to action. 

And the victory, their first away from home in the Premier League in 2020, moved them five points clear in fourth with eight games to play. 

"We felt like it was a slight opportunity for us to capitalise on a couple of results," Lampard told BBC Radio 5 live. 

"We've missed those opportunities this season too many times and today we did it." 

Chelsea came from behind at Aston Villa to move five points clear in fourth as two goals in as many second-half minutes earned them a 2-1 win.

Kortney Hause scored his first Premier League goal two minutes before the interval to give struggling Villa a half-time advantage.

However, substitute Christian Pulisic levelled for Frank Lampard's side before Olivier Giroud made it eight goals in his previous six games against Villa when grabbing the winner.

It was Chelsea's first away win in the Premier League in 2020, the victory providing Lampard with cause for celebration on his 100th match as a manager.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek made his first appearance in 13 months following his Achilles injury and there was evidence of some rust when he miscued an early header.

Chelsea dominated the opening exchanges and only a fine one-handed stop from Orjan Nyland denied the lively Mason Mount from distance.

Nyland was fortunate the ball did not roll back over his line when he spilled what should have been a routine save from Mateo Kovacic before snaffling at the second attempt, with Kepa Arrizabalaga more convincing at the other end in denying Anwar El Ghazi.

Loftus-Cheek almost got on the end of a cross following a twisting, turning run from Mount but, against the run of play, it was Villa who claimed the half-time advantage.

Hause's first effort from Douglas Luiz's delivery was stopped by Kepa yet the Villa defender picked himself up and stuck away the rebound.

There was a sense it might be one of those days for Chelsea when Giroud arrived just too late to divert Cesar Azpilicueta's cross home at the near post. 

However, the Spaniard's next delivery found its way through to an unmarked Pulisic and the substitute steered his finish under the crossbar on the hour mark just five minutes after coming on.

And, two minutes after equalising, the Blues went ahead through Giroud as the Frenchman collected Azpilicueta's pass, swivelled and fired an effort that deflected in off Conor Hourihane.

Hause headed a Hourihane free-kick over the top but there was no stirring comeback attempt from Villa, who remain in the bottom three.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea in control of top-four race

The Blues had seen top-four rivals Manchester United, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal all drop points before they returned to action, and they now have a five-point cushion over United and Wolves with eight to play.

Villa missed out on the chance to move out of the bottom three and their performance provided little evidence they have the quality to stay up.

Azpilicueta dishes out the assists

Both Chelsea goals were served up by their captain, who moved onto five Premier League assists for the season.

The full-back's best ever total in a top-flight campaign in England is the six assists he had in 2017-18.

Rusty Ruben

It was perhaps no surprise that Loftus-Cheek looked off the pace given his lack of action recently, and it was his removal for Pulisic that helped turned the game on its head.

Loftus-Cheek had just 25 touches in his 55 minutes and struggled to get into the game.

What's next?

Newcastle United and Wolves, who both won their first games back, are Villa's next two opponents. Chelsea have a couple of difficult fixtures next week, with a home clash against Manchester City preceding a trip to third-placed Leicester City.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was named in Chelsea's starting line-up for the first time in 13 months when the Blues visited Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

The England international ruptured his Achilles in May 2019 and had not featured across the 2019-20 campaign.

In the Blues' first game back following the coronavirus-enforced break, Frank Lampard chose Olivier Giroud in attack ahead of ex-Villa loanee Tammy Abraham.

Midfielder N'Golo Kante was also in the starting line-up, having been out since February because of a groin injury.

Villa were unchanged from the side that drew 0-0 with Sheffield United on Thursday.

The trip to Villa Park was the 100th game of Lampard's managerial career, with the former Blues midfielder having won 45 of his first 99 in charge of Derby County and Chelsea.

Frank Lampard has warned Callum Hudson-Odoi he needs to start delivering on his potential by improving his training performances and professionalism after attracting negative headlines while the Premier League was suspended.

Hudson-Odoi, 19, was arrested on suspicion of rape in May while the United Kingdom was in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The winger confirmed last week that, following an investigation by police, he is facing no further action over the allegation and vowed "to use my platform as a Chelsea player to be the best role model that I can be".

While Lampard expressed relief that the matter was closed, he urged Hudson-Odoi to learn from the situation.

The teenager has shown promise in the Chelsea first team, but injuries and speculation relating to his long-term future last season have impacted his Stamford Bridge career, and Lampard wants him to knuckle down.

"Firstly, I'm very happy that in the eyes of the law it's been sorted out, that was my main concern at first, so that's positive for us," a stern-faced Lampard told reporters in a video news conference on Friday.

"For Callum, I've hopefully shown in my short time in management that I'm very sympathetic towards the idea that we aren't all angels or saints, we make mistakes when we're at a young age.

"I'll never be one to come down too harshly on that, albeit we have had conversations myself and Callum, and the big conversation now is to make sure he learns from it, from what happened.

"He broke lockdown, that wasn't good enough and he's admitted to that, we can move on. The next thing is to train consistently at a really high level, to work hard in training every day.

"He came back from lockdown and got injured pretty early in this period, so now he's having to work hard to get fit again. As much as there are pitfalls off the pitch, I want to see how he can work on the training pitch to get into this team and perform at the levels we all hope he can at the club, and it doesn't come easy.

"That's the big thing I said to Callum, and he really has to take that on board now."

Chelsea return to Premier League action for the first time since March when they go to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Lampard also confirmed that, despite not necessarily being match fit, Hudson-Odoi is available for selection.

Frank Lampard has sympathised with referee Michael Oliver over Hawk-Eye's failure to award Sheffield United a goal in Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Aston Villa.

But having gone through similar agony with England at the 2010 World Cup, Chelsea manager Lampard also understands United boss Chris Wilder's frustrations.

In the first half of the Premier League match at Villa Park, home goalkeeper Orjan Nyland carried Oliver Norwood's free-kick over the line, but the Goal Decision System (GDS) did not detect it.

As a result, no signal was sent to Oliver's watch, while there was also no intervention from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Hawk-Eye officials apologised for missing the incident, but Wilder was flabbergasted by what he felt was the "biggest VAR decision in the history of the Premier League".

Lampard went through similar with England at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in the days before referees had the advantage of goalline technology, when a shot of his crossed the line against Germany but the officials failed to spot it. The Three Lions went on to lose 4-1.

Many feel that was a goal that instigated the introduction of the technology, and while Lampard says he is over the disappointment now, he appreciates what both Oliver and Wilder went through.

"Well, I've pretty much got over 10 years ago, a long time's gone, but certainly I remember the feeling at the time," Lampard told reporters in a video news conference on Friday.

"It was a difficult moment in the game and that's why I probably had a little sympathy with Michael Oliver and the referees the other day, because it is an easy thing to happen very quickly.

"We've been blessed with the technology since it came in because it's seemed so matter of fact, and I think we've all appreciated that and it's worked.

"It was the first time it didn't work. I don't want to talk casually about it because Chris Wilder will feel very strongly about it, but I think it's been very good, and that moment has to serve to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"And with the VAR technology I think we are generally trying to improve it all the time.  We may never get perfection in a sport like football, but technology is a good thing if used in the right way.

"I felt for Sheffield United and Chris Wilder, emotions would've been running high because of what's at stake in these moments.

"It was a difficult situation and in future we have to make sure VAR is across it to make doubly sure, it's one of the reasons VAR is there, to back up decisions.

"We thought this is clear-cut and now we realise it isn't. So, I really feel sorry for Sheffield United."

The beneficiaries of that mix-up, Villa, will be Chelsea's hosts in the Blues' first match back after the coronavirus-enforced pause on Sunday.

Lampard is expecting to have practically his entire first-team squad available, with just defender Fikayo Tomori set to miss out.

"We have a couple of issues – Fikayo Tomori has a muscle injury, probably from stresses of trying to get fit quickly," Lampard said.

"He has an injury that will probably keep him out for 10 days or so, and Callum Hudson-Odoi had a small injury earlier on in the training process, and although he's not match fit, he is physically fit now."

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