Makeshift centre-back Fernandinho denied his move from midfield to defence was the reason for Manchester City's mediocre run of results.

Pep Guardiola's men have drawn or lost three of their past five Premier League matches and sit 17 points adrift of leaders Liverpool going into Sunday's away game against Arsenal. 

The decision not to replace Vincent Kompany has created headaches, particularly after Aymeric Laporte underwent knee surgery in September.

Fernandinho, 34, was forced to vacate his natural role at the base of midfield to plug the hole in central defence.

But the Brazilian insisted the change had not been a major issue, despite City's failure to keep a clean sheet in 10 matches across all competitions.

"The job you do at the back is so important as you help to defend and attack," said Fernandinho, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"The culture is that whoever scores goals gets the spotlight but it depends on everyone.

"You have to protect your defensive line and, when you have the ball, try to give players in front the ball to attack and create chances.

"I don't think I am being missed in midfield. Rodri is playing really well there. Of course, we are a little bit different but he's doing really well.

"In general the team plays well, the detail made the difference [in the loss to Manchester United] last week and of course we have to improve and react as soon as possible, and we have an opportunity on Sunday."

Fernandinho admitted the fallout from the 2-1 derby defeat to United had taken its toll.

"It's been really tough, really hard for us," he said.

"If you take the statistics, we were better, in control of the game, but the result counts in the end. We have to go again. It's our opportunity to show it was an accident against United.

"We conceded two easy goals and it makes the game more difficult for us. We couldn't find a way to react.

"Arsenal like to play football, we like to play football. It will be a nice game for the fans."

Lucas Moura believes Jose Mourinho can deliver long-awaited silverware for Tottenham.

Mourinho has led Spurs to four wins from six matches since becoming head coach last month, replacing Mauricio Pochettino.

Lucas said Tottenham were well-placed to claim a first trophy since 2008 under serial winner Mourinho, who has delivered silverware at the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Inter and Porto.

"Everyone is excited to work with him. Of course he's a big name, a big impact for everyone. Everyone knows his career, how good he is, because he has won trophies at every club where he has worked," Lucas told UK newspapers.

"Now it's a big opportunity for us to learn from him and we have everything we need – a very good coach who has a lot of experience and a lot to bring. I really believe we can win a trophy now.

"Each coach has a different mentality. He always talks to us, he tries to put in our mentality that we are strong, that we are a big club, that we are winners.

"He tries to put this mentality in us and then afterwards, tactically, step by step, his philosophy. But especially he wants to put this mentality – a strong mentality, winners – in us and that we can win."

Sitting eighth in the Premier League, Spurs face a tricky trip to Wolves on Sunday, just over a week after thrashing Burnley 5-0.

Lucas said Tottenham's performance against Burnley was one his team needed to use as a reference.

"It was the best game with the new manager – from the first minute to the last we were aggressive – we didn't let Burnley play and that's the spirit we need to keep," the midfielder said.

"We need to do it every game and if we do it – this aggressiveness, this concentration – then, with our quality we can go very far.

"We have a lot of things to improve on, but, step by step, at least this aggression and this intensity we need to show every game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he never doubted his ability to manage Manchester United despite criticism during his tenure.

United are on a five-match unbeaten run in the Premier League and sit sixth in the table ahead of hosting Everton on Sunday.

Solskjaer has faced criticism since replacing Jose Mourinho in December last year, but recent wins over Tottenham and Manchester City have silenced the Norwegian's doubters.

The United manager said he always believed in his own ability to deliver at Old Trafford.

"I always had the belief that I could manage this club. I wouldn't have taken the job if I had felt I couldn't do it because I owe Manchester United honesty," Solskjaer told UK media, via the Mirror.

"Football wise, I think I can hold my own when it comes to tactics and stuff, but I have a great staff to help me. It's not all about me.

"I'm so glad I've got Michael Carrick, Mike Phelan and Kieran McKenna and I think I make them feel that I can do the job here and that's happening.

"That's why I was never afraid of not being able to handle this. I always knew I could.

"It's about treating people the right way and, for me, managing United is treating the staff, the players, anyone the same. It doesn't matter which club I'm at, that's just my personality."

A win over Everton on Sunday would lift United back into fifth and just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Pep Guardiola believes he has already completed the main challenge of his tenure at Manchester City.

City are 17 points behind runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool heading into Sunday's trip to Arsenal, with any realistic hopes of a third straight title already extinguished.

As a result, an increasing focus has been placed upon their manager's future over recent weeks.

Guardiola is in his fourth season at the Etihad Stadium, meaning he is set to equal his joint-longest tenure at a club, having led Barcelona from 2008-09 until the end of 2011-12.

The former Bayern Munich boss denied reports this week that his contract at City, which expires in 2021, has a break clause at the end of this term and has spoken of potentially staying beyond his current deal.

Nevertheless, he does not think trying to re-establish dominance in England, where City have won five of the past six major trophies and back-to-back Community Shields, would be as big a challenge as implementing his famed style of quick-passing positional play successfully at the Etihad Stadium.

"The challenge is done for me – to come here and try to play like we did in Barcelona and Bayern Munich," he said.

"That was the big challenge and, in the end, in England we were able to play the way that we wanted to play and we won enough titles.

"Considering the difficulty of this league, seven titles in three seasons is not bad.

"Now the challenge is to maintain what we did in the beginning and we have struggled a little bit, especially because we have an opponent who has not dropped points. If they had dropped points we would be closer but we are incredibly far away.

"Now the target is to win the next games - focus in the cups and try to win games in the Premier League."

A 4-1 Champions League victory at Dinamo Zagreb in midweek saw City bounce back from a chastening 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester United last weekend and Guardiola feels this season's indifferent form can become an important part of the club's development.

"I think maintaining 100, 98 points for three or four years… I knew it [would be difficult]," Guardiola said.

"When we arrived here, the standard was 85, 90 points to win. Now you have to reach almost 100 points to win the Premier League.

"With the help of Liverpool, we made that step and now it is the level you have to reach. Before it didn't happen and we were the reason why.

"For 11 years no one did back-to-back [Premier League titles] and we did it, winning 14 games in a row [at the end of the season]. That's why, when the people say we are not good, I cannot forget what this team have done.

"Sometimes in the process, with NBA teams and incredible tennis players, always there are periods in the season where you struggle a little bit more. I would say that is more normal.

"The situation we are living right now as a club, as a team, will help us in the future. I would have preferred to be closer to Liverpool, but it is going to help us.

"Maybe after four titles in one season we believed we are something that we are not. The reality of sport means you have to make it again and again and again."

Guardiola concluded the analysis with a reading of his own future that could be viewed as more ambiguous than some of his other recent pronouncements.

"In the next games we will see how we are as a team and at the end of the season we have to evaluate if we are good enough, first as a manager to continue and then the players to continue next season," he added. "To analyse at the end is so simple."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed his opposition to suggestions the Champions League should expand in a move that could mean more games for Europe's elite teams.

According to a Daily Mail report, leading Premier League clubs including Liverpool are backing plans that could see the Champions League significantly restructured.

The group stage could grow from a six-match commitment to 10 games per team, the British newspaper said. Such a step could boost earnings potential but also have an impact on existing domestic football schedules.

Klopp's team lead the Premier League, and in the coming week they head to Qatar to compete in the Club World Cup, after earning a place in that event by winning the Champions League.

Injuries are beginning to take a toll at Anfield, with Georginio Wijnaldum joining the casualty list on Saturday when he suffered a muscle problem in the 2-0 win over Watford.

One Liverpool team will face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, before another plays Monterrey at the Club World Cup a day later.

"The fixtures are like they are. You all like watching us suffering - that's how it is," Klopp said. "You look a little bit concerned, but at the end nobody cares really."

He added: "Today I read an article [saying that] the top clubs want to do more games in the Champions League or whatever. I am not involved in these plans. So that's absolute b******s as well.

"That's how it is. We can talk about everything but we have to cut off games, not be putting more in.

"Until then we have to do what we do and we will do that and we are quite positive about it.

"We need each point we can get because it's a tough and long season. You [the media] can make early judgements... but we can't. We just have to recover and play the next game."

Klopp dismissed the idea his team were off their game against Watford, who had enough chances to win the match rather than leave empty-handed in Nigel Pearson's first game as Hornets manager.

"No, just a difficult game. It was not an off-day," Klopp said. "We scored sensational goals.

"It was just a difficult game and I'm completely fine with that."

Klopp also cast a questioning look at the arrangements in place for FIFA's Club World Cup.

The opening matches have been played at Doha's Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, but all games from now on will be contested at the city's Khalifa International Stadium, with five fixtures due to be played on the same pitch in five days.

That scenario has come about because FIFA said in early December that the Education City Stadium, which had been due to host Liverpool's semi-final against Monterrey, plus the third-place play-off and final, was not ready in time to stage games at the tournament.

That venue is being built primarily for the 2022 World Cup.

Klopp recognised Liverpool would be going into a warmer climate after their seven-hour flight to the Middle East, but added: "I think it's raining there. Perhaps it doesn't help the pitch - the one pitch we are playing all on ... it's sensationally good organisation - where all the games are on one pitch and it's raining.

"I'm not sure if the people in Qatar are used to a lot of rain. We will see how the pitch will be. That's a bit of a problem."

Liverpool kept their first home clean sheet of the Premier League season in a 2-0 win over Watford as Mohamed Salah's double rescued the off-key Reds.

The manner in which Jurgen Klopp's men can win when out of sorts must be hard to swallow for second-placed Leicester, who drew 1-1 at home to Norwich City, and third-placed Manchester City, who travel to Arsenal on Sunday.

Chelsea failed to put pressure on the top three as they succumbed to a 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth, but Sheffield United moved up to fifth after brushing Aston Villa aside in a 2-0 win.

Chris Wood's goal was enough to bring Burnley's three-match losing streak to an end and condemn Newcastle United to a first defeat in four league outings.

 

Watford make Reds work for 16th straight home win

New manager Nigel Pearson left Anfield with every reason to be proud of his Watford side's performance on an afternoon when the Hornets had enough chances to claim a shock victory against the Premier League leaders.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue were guilty of wasteful finishing that let Liverpool off the hook and Salah made Watford pay in spectacular style.

The Egypt international curled a spectacular opener into the top corner after 38 minutes and then wrapped up a hard-fought win with a cheeky tap-in in the last minute.

The satisfaction Jurgen Klopp took from an ugly win was dulled by an injury to Georginio Wijnaldum, who suffered a muscle strain that looks set to rule him out of Liverpool's trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup.

Liverpool have now won 16 straight home Premier League games, with their lead up to 10 points.

Four defeats in five for Lampard's Blues

Bournemouth arrived at Stamford Bridge in the midst of a five-game Premier League losing streak but emerged with all three points after Dan Gosling's late goal clinched a surprise 1-0 victory over Chelsea.

Any hopes the Blues had of a return to strong domestic form following their 2-1 midweek victory over Lille began to fade as chances went begging while Bournemouth grew in confidence.

As the Cherries piled forward, Jefferson Lerma's looping header into the box six minutes from time found Gosling unmarked and he lifted the ball over Kepa Arrizabalaga and over the line.

Chelsea had 18 shots at goal throughout the match but failed to force an equaliser and Frank Lampard's men trudged off the field with a record of one win and four defeats in their last five Premier League outings.

Foxes come up short as winning streak ends

Teemu Pukki's third goal in four Premier League matches gave Norwich City the lead at King Power Stadium, where Leicester City's eight-match Premier League winning streak came grinding to a halt.

The Finland international fired Norwich ahead after 26 minutes, but their advantage did not last long, with Tim Krul palming Jamie Vardy's header into his own net seven minutes before half-time.

Daniel Farke's Norwich fought hard for their share of the points in a second half that saw Leicester heap pressure on their goal, attempting 12 shots on goal.

Ben Chilwell's cross forced a late corner from which substitute Harvey Barnes fired agonisingly wide for the hosts, who remain second in the table.

Blades up to fifth after victory over Villa

Any doubts over which of this season's promoted sides has the best chance of a top-half finish appeared to be resolved at Bramall Lane, where Fleck scored both of Sheffield United's goals in a 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

Chris Wilder's men have proved themselves extremely tough to beat and Villa's hopes of inflicting what would have been only United's second defeat in 10 league games suffered a blow when Scotland international Fleck finished a neat passing move with a goal after 50 minutes.

Fleck coolly slotted home his second 23 minutes later before Jack Grealish hit the crossbar with a penalty, leaving Villa winless in four Premier League matches and in trouble towards the foot of the table.

Frank Lampard has demanded more urgency from Chelsea after they suffered a fourth defeat in five Premier League games against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Chelsea were poor against Eddie Howe's men – who went into the game on a run of five straight top-flight losses – and scarcely tested Cherries goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale before Dan Gosling's 84th-minute winner, given by VAR after it had initially been ruled out by referee Graham Scott.

The Blues come up against former manager Jose Mourinho when they travel to Tottenham next weekend and Lampard has demanded his side loosen the shackles in which they appear to be playing.

"If we are not at our best and if we don't have enough, then we need to find another way," he told a media conference.

"We need urgency in our play. Getting it through the lines. Don't play safe; we played too safe.

"In front of our home fans, it's clear we are not playing well enough. We are creating a lot but giving away silly goals. We didn't create enough. We didn't get the fans excited enough."

Asked if he was blaming the result on the poor atmosphere created by fans, Lampard responded: "I'm not blaming them. I would be the first to say that, but I am never going to say that today. The play was too slow. I won't blame the fans. The responsibility is on the players.

"I have been in the dressing room playing after those games and I am not going to draw a line between me and the players. We have a long week where they can go away a couple of days and, when they come back, train hard for Tottenham. We have to admit at the moment it is not good enough."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was delighted with his side's display and hopes the VAR decision in their favour can act as a catalyst for a run of improved results, with Gosling's goal allowed to stand after an initial offside flag.

"We certainly needed it," he said. "It was the best we have fought and competed. We looked a real threat in the second half. Everyone gave everything.

"It is a difficult one [the VAR decision]. It happened in a flash. I don't know if they stopped. I thought it would be tight. VAR took a long time. We are delighted it bounced in our favour.

"You are in the moment so are just waiting. It was hopefully something that turns our fortunes. There were some great performances."

Kieran Tierney will miss three months of action after Arsenal announced the defender will have surgery on his dislocated shoulder.

The former Celtic full-back, signed for a reported £25million in August, hurt his right shoulder against West Ham on Monday after falling awkwardly in his own penalty area.

Arsenal confirmed a significant blow for the 22-year-old on Saturday, saying he "will undergo surgery next week and rehabilitate for around three months".

Tierney joined the club during rehabilitation for a pelvic injury, limiting him to 11 appearances across all competitions.

In more positive news for the Gunners, Nicolas Pepe has been declared available for selection ahead of Sunday's home Premier League match with Manchester City.

Forward Pepe had suffered bruising to his left knee after scoring in the 3-1 win away at West Ham.

But Rob Holding (knee), Dani Ceballos (hamstring), Hector Bellerin (hamstring) and Granit Xhaka (concussion) are all out.

Bellerin and Ceballos are hoping to return to training next week, while Holding is expected to be back before the end of the month. Xhaka, meanwhile, will be managed under concussion protocol rules.

Chelsea's form in the Premier League continued to deteriorate as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

A dire display against Eddie Howe's men shattered any Chelsea hopes that progression to the Champions League last 16 – secured by a midweek win over Lille – would rejuvenate a team who had lost three of their previous four domestic league games.

The Cherries' winner six minutes from time was initially ruled out for offside, but a VAR review showed Dan Gosling was onside before he superbly hooked over Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Blues' gap over fifth place could be reduced to two points on Sunday if Manchester United overcome Everton or Wolves beat Tottenham. Bournemouth, for their part, celebrated bringing a halt to a run of five consecutive top-flight defeats.

Jurgen Klopp said Georginio Wijnaldum missing Liverpool's Club World Cup bid was "the more likely scenario" after the midfielder sustained a hamstring injury against Watford.

Wijnaldum left the field after just under an hour of Liverpool's 2-0 victory at Anfield, the fly in the ointment on an otherwise satisfactory afternoon's work for the Premier League leaders.

Klopp said that injuries are his side's major concern as they look to maintain their lead at the top of the table while negotiating a trip to Qatar during a packed December schedule.

"It looks like with each game you lose one player and that's not too cool," Klopp told BT Sport. "That's our main problem.

"The fixtures are like they are, we know that, but losing players in this type of situation is not cool. We'll deal with it but it makes life not easy."

Asked whether Wijnaldum had a chance of travelling to Qatar with the squad on Sunday, Klopp said: "I have no idea. Today we'll make an assessment and make a decision.

"If he cannot train and has to do rehab then he'll stay here and that's the more likely scenario at the moment."

Despite having to cope without the injured Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Fabinho, Klopp dismissed the suggestion that fatigue is currently an issue for Liverpool.

The Reds' performance against Watford was at times disjointed and only poor finishing prevented the Hornets from taking a first-half lead.

But Klopp praised his side's response and the performance of goalkeeper Alisson, saying: "The most important thing you have to show in this period of the season is resilience. The boys were ready for a big fight.

"They [Watford] had a completely new set-up and did really well. They had their chances.

"Could the game have been easier for us? Of course, if we keep the ball smarter and move passes around.

"The boys are not tired but it's intense to be constantly in charge of a game. We have to defend at some moments with passion instead of organisation because that was not always perfect, but when we did let them in Ali [Alisson] was there."

In a week of deliberation over who might lead the country, English football remains in little doubt over its elect group of players.

But while many feel the current Liverpool side is born to rule, they were asked some tricky questions by a Watford team recently revived by a change of leadership.

There was a high turnout but no landslide victory against Watford at Anfield, where the Reds chalked up their 16th consecutive Premier League home win by a 2-0 scoreline thanks to Mohamed Salah's double.

And while their seat at the top of the table looks safe, canvass for opinion around Merseyside and you will find even the most dyed-in-the-wool Reds reluctant to suggest the balance of power has swung decisively in their favour.

But six more home league wins in a row would see Jurgen Klopp's men eclipse the all-time record streak of 21 set by Bill Shankly's title-winning team of 1972-73, who saw governance of the top flight as their birthright.

For a home crowd watching a team guaranteed to be top of the Premier League table at Christmas, Anfield was strangely subdued during the opening exchanges between Klopp's rotated side and visitors Watford.

New boss Nigel Pearson looked to have assembled a strong opposition during a cagey opening spell that saw the incumbent leaders fail to muster a shot on goal for 22 minutes - the longest wait for a Reds attempt in a home league game since October 2016 against Manchester United.

Pearson could hardly be accused of the kind of negative campaigning Jose Mourinho so often employed during his time at United, with Watford offering a more incisive threat in the opening half-hour thanks to the positive endeavours of Will Hughes and Gerard Deulofeu.

With Andy Robertson on the bench, Liverpool looked momentarily vulnerable at left-back when Etienne Capoue skipped beyond stand-in James Milner before teeing up Abdoulaye Doucoure for a wasteful miss that was punished at the other end just 58 seconds later.

Roberto Firmino's overhead kick launched Sadio Mane down the Liverpool left and he in turn released Mohamed Salah, who fooled Kiko Femenia before nonchalantly curling home with his right foot.

It was not the first time Liverpool's Egyptian king has lorded it over Watford, and a last-minute tap-in means Salah has eight goals and one assist in five Premier League appearances against the Hornets.

But Klopp's cabinet includes many inspirational leaders. Some credit for this win must also go to Mane, so often the player who helps lay the foundations upon which Salah excels.

Mane has set up four goals against Watford in the Premier League, more than he has managed against any other side in the top tier. All four of those assists have been for Salah, too.

Klopp will hope Mane makes a habit of teeing up goals during the busy weeks ahead; the Senegal international has three assists in his past two Premier League games, as many as he managed in his previous 56 appearances.

Clean sheets also help – Klopp will certainly vote for shut-outs to become another long-running trend.

James Milner hailed Liverpool's battling qualities after they maintained their remarkable Premier League form with a scrappy 2-0 win over rock-bottom Watford.

Two goals from Mohamed Salah earned a 16th win in 17 league games for the runaway leaders at a windy Anfield, but Liverpool certainly did not have things all their own way as their struggling opponents offered a consistent threat on the counter-attack.

In their first game under new head coach Nigel Pearson, Watford were guilty of two awful misses - from Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr - either side of Salah's first-half opener and the visitors remained in the contest until the Egypt international struck again in the final minute of normal time.

"They were always going to be up for it, a new manager coming in. We know what Nige is like as well," Milner told BT Sport. "They're having a bad time but we knew it would be tough and it proved to be that."

Asked about the breezy conditions, Milner, who followed manager Jurgen Klopp in signing a contract extension on Friday, added:  "It's not nice, obviously. It affects everything, the touch, the longer passes, crosses, but you have to deal with it. It's the same for both teams and sometimes you've just got to scrap it out.

"It can't always be pretty and nice football, and that's an important result, to get those three points in the way we did, battling it out."

Salah's first goal came 58 seconds after Doucoure had mis-kicked at the other end with a clear sight of goal, the Liverpool forward cutting in from the left following a slick break and beating Ben Foster with a glorious curling finish.

"I've been practicing with my right foot," said a smiling Salah, who went on to seal victory with a cute flick from Divock Origi's scuffed shot.

"We played against a tough team today. I think they should be better positioned than what they are. Hopefully we keep on winning in the next few games."

Salah's late second quelled any nerves among the home fans and he added: "I think now we have more experience. We've played together for three or four years, so we know when we can make the game calm, when we can make it fast.

"Sometimes the crowd, they get panicky a little bit, but we have experience. We have won a few games 1-0 so it's fine."

 

Liverpool made hard work of beating rock-bottom Watford 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday and also suffered another injury blow as Georginio Wijnaldum limped off ahead his side's Club World Cup trip.

A day on from manager Jurgen Klopp signing a contract extension to 2024, the runaway leaders were well below their brilliant best but nevertheless claimed victory through two goals from Mohamed Salah, the second coming in the 90th minute.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr were guilty of horrible misses for Watford either side of Salah's first strike seven minutes before half-time and there were several other presentable chances for Watford in their first game under Nigel Pearson.

However, Liverpool - who also had a goal ruled out by VAR - ultimately did enough to claim victory and will now hope for a positive update on Wijnaldum as they prepare for a Club World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Liverpool's previous three home games against Watford had yielded an aggregate score of 16-1, but this was certainly no cakewalk.

Despite having less than 30 per cent possession in the first period, Watford regularly threatened on the counter-attack, enjoying success down the flanks.

However, both Doucoure and Sarr mis-kicked horribly when given clear sights of goal in the Liverpool box and the first of those misses was punished inside 58 seconds as the hosts scored from their only shot on target prior to half-time.

An incisive Liverpool break ended with Salah latching on to Sadio Mane's pass into the left channel, before cutting inside Kiko Femenia all too easily and curling a gorgeous finish beyond Ben Foster into the top right-hand corner.

Watford continued to look dangerous after the break and Alisson was forced into stops from Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu either side of Mane seeing a 50th-minute goal ruled out for offside following a VAR review.

A lack of quality in the final third was prevalent thereafter, with Roberto Firmino particularly sloppy, but Liverpool – now 11 points clear at the top of the table ahead of Leicester City's clash with Norwich City - eventually added a second as Salah flicked home a scuffed shot from substitute Divock Origi.

What does it mean? Ugly win no problem amid hectic schedule

Liverpool may not have been particularly impressive, but Klopp is unlikely to mind one bit. December is an intense month for the league leaders and securing another win - their 16th from 17 league games - was essentially all that matters.

Deulofeu's efforts go unrewarded

So much of Watford's best play came down the flanks, with Deulofeu particularly influential. The tricky winger should have crowned an impressive performance with a second-half goal, but failed to beat Alisson after being put through one-on-one.

Sarr has a shocker

If Doucoure's spurned chance was clumsy, the midfielder failing to make clean contact when unmarked by the penalty spot, Sarr's subsequent mis-kick was a real shocker. Alisson palmed a Deulofeu cross straight into the winger's path, but Sarr almost missed the ball completely having had time to settle himself. The effort summed up Sarr's general lack of quality in the final third as he wasted a host of promising opportunities.

What's next?

Liverpool's senior squad now head to the Club World Cup in Qatar as their youngsters face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup. The Reds' next Premier League meeting is a tantalising Boxing Day clash at second-placed Leicester, while Watford host Manchester United next Sunday.

Liverpool's injury problems worsened ahead of the Club World Cup as Georginio Wijnaldum was forced off with an apparent hamstring problem in the second half of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford.

Already missing Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Fabinho amid a hectic run of fixtures, Jurgen Klopp saw Wijnaldum pull up lame early in the second half on Saturday, with the Reds a goal to the good.

Wijnaldum was unable to continue after brief on-field treatment and limped off to be replaced by Andy Robertson, with James Milner switching from left-back to midfield.

Liverpool will head to Qatar after the Watford game for two Club World Cup fixtures, starting with a semi-final contest on Wednesday. It now remains to be seen whether Wijnaldum will be fit for that trip.

The runaway Premier League leaders then face second-placed Leicester City on Boxing Day in a key domestic contest.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Manchester United's current strike force to the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez as he hailed the versatility of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Rashford and Martial were on target as United beat Manchester City in last weekend's derby at the Etihad Stadium, and Solskjaer believes the young England forward is showing signs he can follow in the footsteps of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo.

Solskjaer and Ronaldo spent four years together as players at Old Trafford, before the Norwegian worked with his former team-mate as a forwards coach, and few people are better placed to compare the Juventus star with Rashford.

Speaking about the fluid movement and interchanging positional play of Rashford, Martial and James, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I think that's a big strength of ours as a team.

"If Marcus runs in behind, Anthony will get some space because it stretches the opponent. It can be the opposite way around too, with Anthony and Dan running in behind and Marcus coming to feet to get on the ball.

"I see this attack as being quite similar to the one we had with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, with the interchanging of positions and the fast, flowing football."

Under Solskjaer, Rashford has equalled his best Premier League goal return in a single season within the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

Rashford's 10th league goal of the season came from the penalty spot against City and Solskjaer praised the 22-year-old's versatility while drawing comparisons with Ronaldo, who played on the wing and as a striker during his time in Manchester.

"Of course it's hard to say with certainty that he's going to be as good as Cristiano, but you can see the similarities more and more in terms of Marcus' traits on the pitch," said Solskjaer.

"He can play through the middle, he can play as a number nine, he can cut inside from the left and finish. He can even play on the right, as Cristiano did when he came here. He's got the same physical stature and more or less all of his attributes are very, very similar. Even their stats are similar, in terms of goals scored after a certain amount of games."

"You have to remember that, as well as playing with Cristiano, I coached him in my first year as a forwards coach here," he added.

"Both players are very professional, very dedicated, very in love with football. And you can see that Marcus is getting more of a taste for that now, both with us and with England. He is pushing himself and seeing the results."

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