Andriy Shevchenko is in the conversation to take over as Chelsea manager if the Blues decide to part ways with manager Frank Lampard.

With Chelsea languishing in ninth place in the Premier League table, Le10sport reports the Ukrainian's name is on the Blues list of possible replacements.

Shevchenko played for the club between 2006 and 2008 and has since forged a managerial career with the Ukraine national team, moving through the under-19 and under-21 teams to the senior dugout.

 

TOP STORY – SHEVCHENKO BEING CONSIDERED AS NEXT CHELSEA MANAGER

Chelsea are studying their options to replace Lampard and his former Blues team-mate Shevchenko is part of the shortlist, reports Le10sports.

The 44-year-old led Ukraine through an undefeated Euro 2020 qualifying campaign to reach the finals, drawing 0-0 in Portugal and beating the European champions 2-1, in Kiev.

Shevchenko remains close to the club as his 14-year-old son, Kristian, plays in the Blues academy and is well liked by club owner Roman Abramovich, say Le10sports sources.

Southampton made Premier League history on Monday, as they became the first team to beat all seven winners of the competition in the season after they lifted the crown.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men defeated Liverpool 1-0 at St Mary's, prevailing in the fixture for the first time since 2016 thanks to Danny Ings' second-minute lob against his former club.

Southampton have now beaten Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in the campaign following a title triumph.

Here is a look back at the matches that make up that run.

Blackburn Rovers

Southampton sold Alan Shearer to Blackburn in 1992, and three years later the England striker led Rovers to their first and only Premier League title. In the following season, Blackburn finished seventh, while Southampton avoided relegation on goal difference.

They claimed three crucial points in that survival battle on April 6, 1996, with Matt Le Tissier's 80th-minute penalty sealing a 1-0 win over Blackburn at The Dell.

Manchester United

Southampton sensationally beat defending champions United 6-3 on October 26, 1996, with Eyal Berkovic and Egil Ostenstad both scoring braces as the mercurial Le Tissier starred once more

They also beat a title-defending United side in 1997-98, 2000-01 and 2003-04.

Arsenal

The Gunners were top dogs in 2001-02, but came unstuck at St Mary's in November the following season, with James Beattie scoring twice and Kolo Toure's own goal settling the game 3-2 in Southampton's favour.

Manchester City

Early in Mauricio Pochettino's tenure, Southampton defeated defending champions City at St Mary's 3-1 in February 2013.

Their win included a quite sensational own goal from Gareth Barry, who steered a fine, inadvertent finish into the bottom-right corner of City's net to cap off the victory. They beat City last season, winning 1-0 in July, though Liverpool already had already deposed Pep Guardiola's side by that point.

Chelsea

Southampton were relegated to when Chelsea won their first Premier League title under Jose Mourinho, losing both of their games to the Blues on the way down.

However, they beat Chelsea in October 2015, with Steven Davis, Sadio Mane and Graziano Pele doing the damage in a 3-1 win as Mourinho's second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge hurtled towards a premature conclusion.

Leicester City

The Foxes charged to a remarkable Premier League success in 2015-16, but they were thrashed 3-0 at St Mary's in January 2017.

James Ward-Prowse, Jay Rodriguez and Dusan Tadic were on target in what was Southampton's biggest home win in the Premier League since a 4-1 victory against Crystal Palace on the final day of the previous season.

Liverpool

History was made as, despite Liverpool having 16 attempts – albeit with only one on target – Southampton held on to claim a hard-fought, well-deserved win.

The result left Hasenhuttl in tears at full time and also lifted Saints to within four points of the Premier League leaders.

Jurgen Klopp felt Liverpool's loss at Southampton was down to an early mistake by Trent Alexander-Arnold and a failure to award his side penalties.

A goal from former Reds striker Danny Ings in just the second minute was enough to secure a 1-0 win for Saints at St Mary's Stadium on Monday.

James Ward-Prowse chipped a free-kick into the penalty area and, after Alexander-Arnold failed to intercept, Ings looped a clever finish over goalkeeper Alisson.

Liverpool pushed hard in the second half but only hit the target with one of their 17 shots, while they had penalty appeals waved away when Sadio Mane tangled with Kyle Walker-Peters and when a Georginio Wijnaldum shot struck the arm of Jack Stephens.

Those incidents rankled with Klopp, even though he accepted their poor start gave the champions a difficult task.

"It made life massively difficult," he told Sky Sports.

"The idea was nice but we have a player there who is able to hit the ball, and he misses it. All these things can happen to human beings, but as great as the set-piece is, we knew they would do it, we had a player there and missed the ball and then of course the next one is the finish.

"The possession we had, with the way we played, Fraser Forster should have had much more to do, but that's the situation we put ourselves in. We had a long, long spell in the second half where Southampton had nothing to do with the game, no counter-attacks, so that's good.

"But the best situations we had were when Sadio has the ball and then... if anybody will ever say again that Sadio Mane is a diver, it's the biggest joke in the world. This boy tries to stay on his feet.

"Other teams will get a penalty for it, let me say it like this. Then the handball, I don't know who will explain that to me.

"That doesn't make our performance better and doesn't take anything away from Southampton, but in these situations we were unfortunate, at least."

The result ended a run of six consecutive league defeats for Southampton against Liverpool and marked the first time Ralph Hasenhuttl has ever taken points off Klopp in a league fixture.

The Saints boss, who was clearly emotional at full-time, said: "I've never taken a point against Jurgen so far, so, I think I started believing we could do it in the 92nd minute and not earlier!

"The way we defended was amazing. The effort the guys put in, everybody, was key to winning. The mentality was maybe even better than this mentality monster team.

"It was an important step forward, I think."

Liverpool have taken just two points from their past three games and will be overtaken by Manchester United at the top of the table if the Red Devils win their game in hand.

"It's a rather rusty moment and we have to admit that," said Klopp. "Only if you know the problem can you solve the problem, and we are not blind to our problems.

"We just have to fight through this and play through this. That's with proper opponents around, they want to have points, I have to say the attitude of Southampton was exceptional. That's why we lost tonight and didn't have the results in the last few weeks that we wanted."

Liverpool's frustrating run continued as they slipped to a 1-0 Premier League defeat against Southampton, handing further impetus to Manchester United and the chasing pack.

Having drawn their final two games of 2020 to West Brom and Newcastle United, Liverpool were downed by an early goal from their former striker Danny Ings at St Mary's.

They remain top, above United on goal difference having played a game more ahead of a crunch clash between the two old rivals at Anfield on January 17.

Ings' earliest goal of his Premier League career came after Liverpool switched off from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.

Southampton might have added to their lead before half-time, but although Jurgen Klopp's champions dominated after the restart, they could not avoid a second league defeat of the season.

Liverpool were boosted by the return of Thiago Alcantara, yet it was the Spain international's foul that resulted in Southampton's second-minute opener.

Ward-Prowse's clever free-kick caught the visiting defence cold and, with Alisson stranded, Ings delicately lofted in his 50th Premier League goal.

Making his first Premier League appearance since May 2019, Fraser Forster was beaten by Roberto Firmino moments later, but the Brazil forward dragged his effort wide.

Moussa Djenepo succumbed to a hamstring injury with half-an-hour played and his replacement Nathan Tella was inches away from a first senior goal when he curled wide of the right-hand post.

Liverpool wanted a penalty when Giorgino Wijnaldum's shot struck Jack Stephens' arm from point-blank range, but Andre Marriner remained unmoved.

Stephens made another vital block in the 58th minute, lunging across to deny Sadio Mane as Liverpool turned the screw.

For all Liverpool's dominance, however, Forster did not have a save to make until the 75th minute, as he got down to Mane's scuffed shot.

Jordan Henderson’s last-ditch clearance from Yan Valery’s effort kept Liverpool in the contest late on, but Southampton nevertheless held firm to end a four-match winless run and reduce an emotional Ralph Hasenhuttl to tears of joy at full-time.

Thiago Alcantara has been named in Liverpool's starting XI for just the second time in the Premier League this season following a lengthy lay off due to a knee injury.

Former Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago's only previous start for the Reds came in the Merseyside derby against Everton in October.

Late on in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, Thiago was the subject of a rash lunge from Richarlison, who saw red for the challenge.

Thiago carried on to help tee up what seemed to be a last-gasp winner for Jordan Henderson, though it was subsequently ruled out by VAR, but the Spain international then missed the next two months of action.

Having made his return to training in December, Thiago came on from the bench for just his third Reds appearance on Wednesday, yet could not inspire Jurgen Klopp's champions to a win over Newcastle United, who held on for a goalless draw.

In his 22 minutes on the pitch, Thiago completed 21 of 23 passes. Only four Newcastle players attempted more throughout the course of the match.

Klopp had spoke of his unwillingness to take any undue risks with Thiago, who tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after making his Liverpool debut against Chelsea, but the Reds boss restored the 29-year-old to his starting lineup for Monday's game at Southampton.

With Liverpool looking to snap a two-game winless streak, Thiago came in as one of three changes, along with Georginio Wijnaldum and former Southampton player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who makes his first league start of the season.

Jordan Henderson was placed into a makeshift defence alongside Fabinho, with Joel Matip out due to a groin issue. Liverpool's captain also played at centre-back in the second half of a 1-1 draw with Fulham last month.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino got the nod in attack.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League meetings with Southampton, keeping a clean sheet in six of those matches, though their recent slip-ups have allowed Manchester United to move level on points with them at the top.

He has only been in charge since July 2019 but Frank Lampard's reign as Chelsea boss is seemingly under considerable threat. 

Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City – a game in which Lampard said his side were taught "serious lessons" – was the Blues' fourth Premier League defeat since the start of December, when they fleetingly topped the table.

Only relegation favourites West Brom (five) and Sheffield United (six) have suffered more in the same period. 

The loss leaves them on 26 points – three fewer than they had at the same stage last season – with history showing the west London outfit have never finished higher than sixth when amassing no more than that number of points after 17 games. 

It marks a sorry transformation in fortunes for Lampard, who is the club's record goalscorer and one of its most beloved former players. 

Here, we look at what has gone wrong for the 42-year-old this season and assess who might replace him, should Blues owner Roman Abramovich decide a change is required.

Big names not performing 

Lampard oversaw a spend of more than £220million in the most recent transfer window, but his two marquee signings have failed to deliver. 

Timo Werner arrived from RB Leipzig in a £47m deal after scoring 28 goals and making eight for his team-mates last season. 

He has contributed four goals and as many assists in his 17 league appearances for the Blues this term, however, while his touches in the opposition box have fallen from an average of 7.65 per game in the 2019-20 season to 5.29 with Chelsea.

He is not the only Bundesliga import struggling, though, and Lampard could do with the real Kai Havertz standing up.

Given he cost Chelsea a fee in the region of £70m when coming in from Bayer Leverkusen, the Chelsea boss would have anticipated more than one goal in his first 15 Premier League games.

Havertz's role at Chelsea may not be exactly as it was at Leverkusen and the 21-year-old has had to contend with a bout of COVID-19, but he is spending the bulk of his time in the same areas of the field and not coming up with the same goods.

He has had just two big chances compared to the 18 he enjoyed during his final campaign with Leverkusen, while his average of 2.5 touches in the opposition box per 90 minutes in England's top flight is comfortably shy of the 5.1 he had in his final season in Germany. 

High-profile coaches lurking 

There are a number of significant names waiting in the wings should Lampard be given the boot. 

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has been linked with the position in recent days and the Northern Irishman has strong links to the club. He was appointed their head youth coach in 2004 before being promoted to reserve team manager two years later. 

He guided the Foxes to fifth place last season – just four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea – and has overseen an impressive start to this campaign, with the club third after winning 10 of their opening 17 games. 

Thomas Tuchel would also likely be near the front of the queue after his dismissal as Paris Saint-Germain boss at the end of December. 

Maurizio Sarri was in charge before Lampard and the club might opt to return to Italy for their next man, with Massimiliano Allegri still out of work. 

The 53-year-old left Juventus at the end of the 2018-19 campaign after securing his fifth consecutive Serie A title in charge of the Bianconeri - the kind of record surely guaranteed to turn Abramovich's head.

Not all doom and gloom

While Lampard does have the lowest points-per-game ratio of any permanent Chelsea manager since Abramovic took over the club in 2003 (1.67 per game), there is some cause for optimism for the former England midfielder. 

The Blues play sides from the bottom half of the Premier League table in five of their next seven top-flight matches, while they can prepare for that run with what looks like an easy FA Cup third-round clash against Morecambe, should the weekend tie even go ahead as the League Two outfit grapple with a coronavirus outbreak.

Despite results not going in their favour over recent weeks, Lampard's side are scoring more goals and conceding fewer than they did last season. On average, they are scoring 1.9 goals per game this season compared to 1.8 last term and are letting in 1.2 per game this time around compared to 1.4 in the 2019-20 season. 

There is also the small matter of the Champions League knockout stages to look forward to after they came out on top of Group E with four wins from their six games. 

Atletico Madrid await in the last 16 and Lampard will dearly hope he is still in a position to pit his wits against Diego Simeone come the first leg on February 23.

Uruguayan footballers have urged the Football Association to overturn the "reprehensible" three-match ban issued to Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani.

The 33-year-old was punished for a social media post following his decisive impact in United's 3-2 Premier League win at Southampton on November 29.

Cavani addressed a friend with a Spanish word often used as a term of endearment in Latin America. The Uruguay international deleted the post and apologised when it was made clear to him that the word used could be construed as having racist connotations in English.

The FA issued the striker with a three-game suspension and a fine of £100,000, along with an instruction to complete face-to-face education, after which Cavani again apologised but insisted he was simply expressing affection towards a friend "according to my culture and way of life".

On Monday, representatives of the Uruguayan Football Players Association (AFU), including veteran defender Diego Godin, issued a statement accusing the FA of displaying a "biased, dogmatic and ethnocentric vision" in its sanction of Cavani.

Stats Perform News has approached the FA for comment.

The AFU statement said: "Firstly, we must condemn the arbitrary conduct of the English Football Association. Far from condemning racism, the English Football Association has itself committed a discriminatory act against the culture and way of life of the Uruguayan people.

"Edinson Cavani has never committed any conduct that could be interpreted as racist. He merely used a common expression in Latin America to affectionately address a loved one or close friend. To sustain that the only way to obtain a valid interpretation in life is that which lies in the minds of the managers of the English Football Association is actually a true discriminatory act, which is completely reprehensible and against Uruguayan culture.

"We would therefore like to publicly defend Edinson Cavani's impeccable character and of course our country's culture. We are against any kind of discrimination; however unfortunately, through its sanction, the English Football Association expresses absolute ignorance and disdain for a multicultural vision of the world, respectful of its plurality, by erroneously, unilaterally and rigidly imposing its anti-racism rules, the basis of which we support but are obviously not realistically applicable to the case in question here.

"It has not just punished one person, but also our whole culture, our way of life, which is truly a discriminatory and racist act.

"Lastly, we urge the English Football Association to review its decision-making processes related to these issues immediately so that it does not commit any similar injustice ever again. Its regulations should take into account the plurality of people's ways of life and cultures. The first rule to fight against racism is to respect such different ways of life and cultures.

"By virtue of the foregoing, we request the FA to immediately overturn the sanction imposed on Edinson Cavani and reinstate his good name and honour in the world that has been so unfairly tarnished by this reprehensible decision."

A familiar pairing helped Tottenham return to winning ways in the Premier League this weekend. 

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were both on target as Jose Mourinho's side ended a four-match winless streak in the competition with a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Leeds United. 

Their rapport has been one of the defining stories of the season but, away from north London, several other games produced some interesting statistics.

With the help of Opta data, we take a look at some of the quirkiest stats from the weekend's action, with Leicester City's win at Newcastle United a source of a couple of fascinating facts.

 

Kane and Son combine again

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min's almost telepathic understanding was on show again in Tottenham's defeat of Leeds.

The South Korea international swept in Kane's pass to become the 18th Spurs player to score 100 goals for the club in all competitions on what was his 253rd appearance.

Kane has now assisted nine goals for Son in the Premier League, while the South Korean has laid on four for the England captain in the 2020-21 season – no two players have linked up more in a single season in the competition.

They have plenty of time left to leapfrog Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, who combined 13 times during Blackburn Rovers' 1994-95 title-winning season. 

Evergreen Vardy keeps on going

Jamie Vardy might be 33 but the Leicester striker is showing no signs of slowing down. 

His assist for James Maddison's opener in the 2-1 win over Newcastle at the weekend means he has been directly involved in 98 Premier League goals since turning 30 (80 goals and 18 assists). 

He leapfrogged Paolo Di Canio to move joint-sixth with Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs in the all-time list for most Premier League goal involvements aged 30-plus. 

He is now within touching distance of Gianfranco Zola (101) and Shearer (102), with Ian Wright in third with 110 involvements. 

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is second with 118, while Teddy Sheringham leads the way with 127 (77 goals and 50 assists).

Tierney waves tartan flag for Gunners

Arsenal do not have a rich lineage of Scottish players during the Premier League era, but left-back Kieran Tierney is doing his best to change that.

The former Celtic man became the first Scottish player to score an away Premier League goal for the Gunners in their thumping of West Brom and the first to do so in the top flight since Charlie Nicholas in March 1986. 

The 23-year-old cut inside from the left flank and curled a brilliant finish beyond Sam Johnstone to open the scoring, before then going on to tee up Alexandre Lacazette's second goal in the rout of Sam Allardyce's woeful Baggies.

Tierney – who has been tipped as a future Arsenal captain by boss Mikel Arteta – only needs one more goal to join Paul Dickov (three) as the Gunners' top-scoring Scottish player in the Premier League.

Carroll ends lengthy wait for Magpies goal

Newcastle tasted defeat against the Foxes but they could at least toast a return to the scoresheet after an almighty break for Andy Carroll. 

Only Wayne Rooney has had a longer gap between Premier League goals for the same club than Carroll, who netted for the first time of his second Magpies spell.

Carroll's goal was his first for Newcastle since he re-joined the club in 2019-20. The former Liverpool and West Ham forward had last netted for the Magpies on Boxing Day 2010, in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.

With a gap of 10 years and eight days between his strikes for Newcastle, Carroll is behind only Rooney for the largest stretch of time between two goals for the same club in the Premier League.

Rooney scored on the opening day of the 2017-18 season for Everton, 13 years and 121 days after his last goal for the Toffees in the 2003-04 season.

Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's coaching staff on a full-time basis.

Fletcher came through United's academy as he spent two decades at Old Trafford during his playing career. He returned to the club in October 2020, taking up the chance to coach the Under-16s.

The 36-year-old - who also had spells at West Brom and Stoke City, as well as winning 80 caps for Scotland - has now accepted a full-time role working with the first team.

"I am delighted to be returning to the club as a first-team coach," Fletcher told United's official website.

"It's a very exciting time for this young team and I am looking forward to taking the next steps in my coaching career by working with Ole and his staff."

Solskjaer is pleased to have Fletcher - who won five Premier League titles with United, as well as the FA Cup and the Champions League - on board.

"Darren has the United DNA running through his veins and he knows exactly what it takes to be a Manchester United player," Solskjaer said.

"He is at the start of his coaching career and his experience both on and off the pitch along with his winning mentality, commitment and hard work will be a great addition to the staff."

Frank Lampard's position as Chelsea head coach is under threat, while Tottenham have started talks to extend Harry Kane's deal.

Lampard is under increasing pressure at Stamford Bridge after just one win in their past six Premier League games.

Sunday's 3-1 loss to Manchester City has only put further pressure on the Chelsea boss.

 

TOP STORY – LAMPARD'S POSITION AS CHELSEA BOSS UNDER THREAT

Lampard's job as Chelsea head coach is under serious threat, according to The Athletic.

The report says the Premier League club, who are eighth in the table, have started looking at replacements.

Lampard took charge of Chelsea in July 2019, but they sit seven points behind Liverpool and Manchester United – who have both played one game fewer – despite spending heavily in the close season.

ROUND-UP

- Kane's impressive form for Tottenham has seen him linked with the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. The Independent reports Spurs have started talks with the forward, who has 10 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League this season, over a contract extension, even though his current deal runs until 2024.

- With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sidelined with long-term injuries, Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders. But The Athletic reports the Premier League champions are not considering a move for Lille defender Sven Botman.

- Struggling for game time at Tottenham, Dele Alli is linked with a reunion with Mauricio Pochettino at PSG. Foot Mercato reports Pochettino has spoken with Alli, who is open to a move.

- Staying at PSG and Sky Sports reports the Ligue 1 giants are in negotiations with Everton to sign Moise Kean on a permanent deal worth around €34.6million (£31m). Kean has scored nine goals in 16 games in all competitions on loan at PSG.

- Samuel Umtiti's Barcelona future is uncertain. Todofichajes reports Nice have a strong interest in the defender on an initial loan deal.

- Patrick Bamford has scored 10 Premier League goals this season and the Leeds United forward is out of contract next year. The Sun reports Leeds are set to reward the 27-year-old with a lucrative new deal.

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud would be a useful signing for the Serie A giants.

Giroud, 34, is again linked with a move from Chelsea after making just six starts in all competitions this season.

Juve and Inter are among the clubs linked with the France international, who has managed nine goals for Chelsea in 2020-21.

Pirlo confirmed Juventus' interest as he seeks a back-up forward in January.

"Giroud? We could use him," he told DAZN after a 4-1 Serie A win over Udinese.

"But these are things that [Juventus sporting director Fabio] Paratici knows better than me. 

"We talked about it but let's see if we will do something in the next few days."

Juventus are fifth in the table, 10 points behind leaders Milan, although they have a game in hand.

Mikel Arteta believes Kieran Tierney could go on to become Arsenal captain, with the former Celtic full-back having been in superb form lately.

Tierney has played in all but one of Arsenal's 17 league matches this season and opened his account for the campaign with a wonderful goal against West Brom on Saturday.

The 23-year-old cut inside from the left flank and curled a brilliant finish beyond Sam Johnstone to open the scoring, before then going on to tee up Alexandre Lacazette's second goal in a 4-0 rout of Sam Allardyce's woeful Baggies.

It was a third successive victory for Arsenal, who have turned their fortunes around after a seven-game winless streak in the top flight.

Since the start of December, no defender in the league has created more chances than Tierney (15), while Andy Robertson (29), Aaron Cresswell (25), Trent Alexander-Arnold (23) and Joao Cancelo (22) are the only defenders to have crafted more opportunities than the Scotland international's tally of 21 this term.

Tierney had experience of captaining Celtic prior to his move to Arsenal in 2019, and Arteta has seen plenty of leadership qualities in the left-back.

"I think he can be," Arteta told a news conference when asked if Tierney could go on to captain the Gunners.

"He has the respect and admiration of every member of the staff and every player. It's just the way he is, he does it in a natural way. He's a really shy boy as well but I think he represents all of the values we want to install and that are in the DNA of this football club.

"In both [attack and defence] he can do really well. He can still improve but he's been really good in attack and really solid defensively, so it's the kind of contribution we need from the full-backs.

"He's shy, so humble as well. He came here, it took him a while, he had a really bad injury and was away from home, but he's a natural leader.

"You see how he behaves on the pitch, and when he talks he says the right thing. It's exactly what we look for and I am so pleased to have him in the team."

While Tierney is starting to hit his stride in the Premier League, Arsenal have also been boosted by Lacazette's return to form.

After going almost three months without a league goal, Lacazette scored Arsenal's opener from the penalty spot in a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, before netting the winner against Brighton and Hove Albion and helping himself to a double at West Brom.

Lacazette is now on seven top-flight goals for 2020-21, with five coming away from home – his best such tally in the competition.

The former Lyon forward has netted half of the 12 big chances he has been presented with, which is a better conversion rate than the likes of Sadio Mane, Marcus Rashford and team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Lacazette's contract is set to run out in 2022, and although Arteta has been delighted with the Frenchman's performances, any talks will be held off until the end of this season.

"We haven't talked about anything related to his contract," Arteta said.

"I'm delighted with the way he's performing, both that he's scoring and the form and energy that he's having at the moment, so he needs to keep doing that.

"We will talk in the summer and make a decision then."

Jurgen Klopp has made clear Liverpool will only be active in the January transfer window if it is the right thing to do, as they have solutions within the squad to cover for injuries in defence. 

Already missing long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, the reigning champions are now without Joel Matip due to a groin injury suffered against West Brom. 

Rhys Williams replaced the injured Matip in the second half of the 1-1 draw at Anfield, while Nathaniel Phillips started alongside Fabinho in the heart of the defence for the 0-0 result at Newcastle United three days later. 

Liverpool have been linked with centre-backs as potential options to strengthen the squad midway through the campaign, including Ozan Kabak at Bundesliga strugglers Schalke and Sven Botman, who has impressed this season for Ligue 1 high-flyers Lille. 

Klopp, though, insists the club will not do business just for the sake of it, particularly given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We have solutions within the squad. If we can, or we will do something in the window, I don't know,” the Liverpool boss told the media.  

"It's a very difficult transfer window, as you can imagine. Not a lot of clubs have real money. Some clubs don't have money but don't need it as well.   

"Doing something makes no sense - doing the right thing does make sense, though. 

"I liked Nathan (against Newcastle). He's just an absolutely clear boy who knows about his abilities and is using them. He's just doing the job, helping us.   

"The reason he played was because if Rhys played again, Nate would not have played for five or six weeks, which makes no sense because he needs rhythm as well. 

"We have to think about these kind of things, but he did a good job."

Back-to-back draws has seen Liverpool caught at the summit, in-form Manchester United moving level on points with their rivals in the table.

Klopp's side can move clear again with a win away at Southampton on Monday - albeit they will then have played a game more than United. The German coach expects a tense title race this season with plenty of twists and turns, including the possibility of it going down to the wire.

"We wish it would not be that close, but I'm not surprised," Klopp said. "We have our situation, all the other clubs have their situations. Our season is so far, so good. Not more, not less.

"We tried to be ready for each game. I liked the reaction (against Newcastle) on the second half from West Brom, it was good. Now Southampton will ask different things - we have to be ready again.

"Then Aston Villa [in the FA Cup], then Manchester United, so this season is a tough one for the supporters.

"If you're a neutral, you will love it I'm sure, because it will go to the wire probably. It's tough for all of us, that's why it's so close."

The festive period may not have gone quite to plan for Liverpool but the return of Thiago Alcantara provides a reason for optimism at the start of 2021.

The Spaniard came on as a second-half substitute against Newcastle United on Wednesday, having not featured since suffering an injury when caught by Richarlison in the Merseyside derby back in October, a challenge that saw the Everton forward dismissed late on in a 2-2 draw. 

Yet despite the lengthy absence, Thiago hardly showed no signs of rust at St James' Park. While unable to help Liverpool fashion a late winner as they drew for a second successive outing, his appearance off the bench provided a welcome reminder of just what the Reds have missed in recent months. 

After replacing James Milner in the 73rd minute, the midfielder had 29 touches, completed 21 of his 23 pass attempts and won all six of his duels. It was as if he had never been away. 

Having stuttered in their last two outings - they were held at home by West Brom before the 0-0 result at Newcastle - there must be a temptation to put the 29-year-old in the starting line-up at Southampton on Monday, as Liverpool aim to move clear of Manchester United at the Premier League summit.

Jurgen Klopp, though, is understandably unwilling to take any undue risks with a player who has also had to deal with testing positive for COVID-19 since moving to England.

"We will see. That he could play 20 minutes is special, I would say. He's had only two sessions with the team - that's it," the Liverpool boss said after the 0-0 result at Newcastle. 

"This game gave us an opportunity to do it, because it was mainly about creating and that's obviously his best skill.

"Honestly, the boys who did the job so far did exceptionally well. It's not that we could not survive if he cannot start the next game, but it's very good that he's fit and in contention. I like that a lot." 

Liverpool fans should like it too, considering what they have witnessed in the limited glimpses of the big-name signing from Bayern Munich so far. 

Thiago completed 75 passes of 83 attempted (90.24 per cent) against Chelsea on debut – and that was just in one half. Since Opta began collecting full passing data in 2003-04, his tally sits as the most made by a player to have played a maximum of 45 minutes. 

He was even more accurate with his passing when handed a first start against Everton, finishing up at 92.41 per cent. He also completed 80 per cent of his attempted dribbles in that game, having 99 touches in total at Goodison Park. 

Liverpool's midfield - so often without Fabinho this season, with the Brazilian having to switch to fill in for injuries at centre-back - has performed admirably so far. Yet Thiago provides something different, something a bit special.

It may well be Klopp, with his focus only on the bigger picture, leaves him in reserve once more at Southampton, but the Reds will only benefit from having the playmaker back involved again.

Phil Foden hailed the work of "genius" Pep Guardiola and outlined his plans to continue improving after inspiring Manchester City to a 3-1 victory against Chelsea.

The England international set up Ilkay Gundogan for City's first goal in Sunday's clash and swept home Kevin De Bruyne's cross for their second just 157 seconds later.

At 20 years and 220 days, he became the second youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Chelsea since Jermain Defoe in September 2002.

De Bruyne extended the visitors' lead before half-time at Stamford Bridge but it was Foden who earned particular praise from boss Pep Guardiola after the game.

"I'm so proud," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "He never dropped one bit of his energy he can play up front in all four positions. 

"He has a sense of goal, he scored a fantastic goal. We rely on him incredibly.

"For England as well he will be a top player because he's so clever and calm. He made another great performance."

Foden has now been directly involved in 14 Premier League goals – finding the net nine times himself and setting up five more for his team-mates.

That is as many as Manchester United legend Paul Scholes managed at the same age, only strengthening comparisons made between the pair.

He completed all 16 of his passes in the opposition half against Chelsea and created four chances, which is more than any other player on the field.

However, having struggled to hold down a place in the side this term, the City academy product is refusing to get too far ahead of himself.

"I still have a lot to learn," he said. "There's quality players here. Riyad Mahrez on the bench today could easily play. 

"There's quality players at the club and I just have to keep doing well each time and improving.

"The manager's praise means a lot when you put 100 per cent into a game. It feels nice. I'm enjoying my football and I want to keep enjoying it."

Foden started on the left side of a striker-less attack for a City side depleted by a coronavirus outbreak in their camp, leaving them without six squad members for the match.

The Citizens' victory was their third in a row in the Premier League, moving them to within four points of top spot with a game in hand, but was their first over one of last season's top-six finishers this term at the fifth attempt.

City dropped off in the second half and Callum Hudson-Odoi pulled one back for Chelsea in stoppage time, though Foden was delighted with his side's overall display at Stamford Bridge.

"It gives you the confidence, coming here and getting a result how we did," he said. "It gives everyone confidence in the training room and we want to keep pushing and playing like this more often.

"The first half was brilliant. To be three goals up, it's not always easy to go into the second half three goals up and play the same way. 

"You could probably tell the second half we dropped off a bit and let them have it. Overall it was a great performance and doesn't put us in a bad position with the games in hand.

"We've played good every game but just not finished our chances. Today was a brilliant performance and much more clinical in the final third.

"We had that little break after the last game and maybe that helped us out to have the energy today. It was a great performance, everyone played top today.

"We always have great tactics going into big games like this – Pep's a genius at things like this. 

"As you can tell we played the right way and we definitely done them staying high and wide and going down the flanks. It was something we did well."

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