Jurgen Klopp out, Steven Gerrard in?

Klopp ended Liverpool's 30-year wait for league glory last season, but the German manager could be set for a return to his homeland.

His exit could see Gerrard return to Merseyside.

 

TOP STORY – GERRARD TO REPLACE KLOPP IN LIVERPOOL RETURN

Steven Gerrard may soon return to Anfield but as manager to replace Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, according to The Mirror.

Liverpool reportedly expect Klopp to take up an opportunity with Germany in the near future amid doubts over long-time head coach Joachim Low.

As a result, Liverpool legend Gerrard has been sounded out as he has Rangers on a cusp of a drought-breaking league title in Scotland.

Gerrard, who made more than 700 appearances for Liverpool, took control of Rangers in 2018.

 

ROUND-UP

- Erling Haaland seems to be on every club's wish list but the Mirror reports Manchester City have joined the queue for the Borussia Dortmund star. City manager Pep Guardiola and Haaland's agent Mina Raiola have a testy relationship but the Premier League leaders will press ahead with an alleged £100million (€115m) deal. English pair Chelsea and Manchester United are also reportedly interested along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fabrizio Romano says Chelsea want to keep veteran defender Thiago Silva beyond the 2020-21 season. Chelsea signed Silva on a free transfer following his PSG exit.

- LaLiga giants Barcelona are in the market for a young defender and have set their sights on Inter's 21-year-old Alessandro Bastoni, according to Calciomercato.

Arsenal are in the hunt for Wigan Athletic sensation Kyle Joseph, with the teenager scoring five goals in 14 appearances. The Mirror claims the Gunners have joined Celtic and Rangers in their interest in the London-born Scotland youth international whose current contract expires in June.

Liverpool and rivals United are eyeing Leicester City's Harvey Barnes, reports the Mirror. The 23-year-old has established himself as a key player for the Foxes.

- Eric Bailly is in talks with United over a new long-term contract, claims The Sun. The 26-year-old defender, who has been plagued by injuries at Old Trafford, is out of contract in 2022. It comes amid United's reported interest in Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig and Brighton and Hove Albion star Ben White.

Manchester City are reportedly considering a double swoop for Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna.

The Borussia Dortmund stars have been linked with moves, with Haaland in particular in high demand across Europe.

And high-flying City have their eyes on the duo.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER HAALAND, REYNA

Manchester City are considering moves for Dortmund stars Haaland and Reyna, according to 90min.

Haaland, 20, has scored 17 goals and provided three assists in 17 Bundesliga games this season.

Reyna, the 18-year-old American, has three goals and four assists in 21 league games.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United continue to be linked with centre-backs. But the Daily Mail reports the Premier League club are unwilling to meet Sevilla defender Jules Kounde's £68million (€79m) release clause, although they remain interested in the 22-year-old.

- With Liverpool enduring a difficult season, Jurgen Klopp's future has become a talking point. Bild reports Klopp could take over as Germany coach after the 2022 World Cup despite having a contract with Liverpool until 2024.

- Another club linked with a move for Haaland are Chelsea. Metro reports Tammy Abraham, who has scored 12 goals this season and is out of contract in 2023, is unwilling to discuss a new deal with the club amid the Haaland rumours.

- Jesse Lingard is attracting interest after an impressive start to his West Ham career. The Daily Express reports Leicester City are prepared to challenge West Ham if they try to sign Lingard, who is on loan from Manchester United, permanently ahead of next season.

- Still without a club, it remains to be seen where Maurizio Sarri ends up next. CalcioMercato reports Fiorentina again met with the former Juventus and Chelsea boss, but a potential agreement remains complex.

Jurgen Klopp said losing star captain Jordan Henderson to injury was a "massive blow" after Liverpool's faltering Premier League title defence hit a new low on Saturday.

Henderson suffered a groin injury as champions Liverpool were upstaged by Everton 2-0 in Saturday's Merseyside derby at Anfield.

After Richarlison put Everton ahead in the second minute, Henderson was forced off the field by the half-hour mark as Liverpool's injury crisis mounts.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty with seven minutes remaining condemned Liverpool to their first home defeat to neighbours Everton since 1999.

"It's a massive blow losing Hendo [Jordan Henderson] again, massive, but Nate [Nathan Phillips] played a super game," Liverpool manager Klopp told reporters post-match.

"Again, we got used to it, unfortunately, that we have to change things,

"We just try to set up again for the next game and as long as we have 11 players we will do that.

"The boys are still full of desire, I see that. But to change a football game, a result, to get the result you have to be decisive in the right moments, defensively and offensively and that's what we are lacking."

Liverpool were already without Fabinho – himself a stand-in for Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk sustained a potentially season-ending knee injury in October's reverse fixture at Goodison Park.

Liverpool have lost four consecutive home league games for only the second time, last doing so back in December 1923 – when they were also defending top-flight champions.

Everton picked up their first win over Liverpool in 24 meetings in all competitions (D12 L11) – ending what was the Reds' longest ever unbeaten run against a single opponent.

Jurgen Klopp questioned the decision to award Everton a late penalty that condemned Liverpool to a 2-0 defeat in the Merseyside derby at Anfield.

Carlo Ancelotti's visitors sealed a first win at the home of their near neighbours in almost 22 years on Saturday thanks to strikes from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

It was Sigurdsson's 83rd-minute spot-kick, after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was adjudged to have been fouled in the box, that most irked the losing manager.

Referee Chris Kavanagh was asked to inspect the incident at the pitchside monitor but stuck with his original decision, much to Klopp's dismay.

Asked about the incident at his post-match press conference, the Liverpool boss said: "I really think it's unfair to ask me because everybody asks me, which means everybody thinks it was not a penalty.

"But that's not really important because the ref thought it's a penalty. I wanted to talk to him after the first few interviews I had but he left already.

"I [wanted to ask] what did he see? Because the VAR calls you over in a situation like that, then I think he is in doubt about the decision.

"But he needed only a second; he went there, watched it from three, four yards and, yeah, penalty.

"He saw, obviously, something all the people didn't see. I didn't see it back yet but everybody who sees it tells me the same: 'How can it be a penalty?'"

As they contend with the disappointment of derby defeat, Liverpool must also count the cost of yet another injury blow following Jordan Henderson's first-half withdrawal.

On his captain, Klopp added: "It's the groin/adductor region and nobody in the medical department was kind of positive about it.

"So, it doesn't look good but we have to wait for the scan tomorrow, hopefully."

As for the game as a whole, Klopp highlighted an early moment of defensive sloppiness and profligacy at the other end of the pitch as the reason for Liverpool's downfall.

Asked about how much the result had hurt, he said: "A lot. A lot. But we conceded a completely unnecessary first goal, let's not forget that, and that's a big part of the game.

"There are two big parts, you have to defend and you have to score, and in one situation we didn't defend well enough so they could score.

"We made a mistake, if you want. And we didn't use things we created and that's why we have the result."

Jurgen Klopp has been suitably impressed by Ozan Kabak so far as the defender looks to make the most of his opportunities at Liverpool. 

Kabak moved to Anfield on the final day of the mid-season transfer window, initially joining on loan from Schalke until the end of the current campaign. 

However, the deal reportedly includes a purchase option, meaning the 20-year-old Turkey international has a window in which to prove he should be signed permanently in a deal worth £18million. 

The centre-back endured a moment to forget on his debut against Leicester City, colliding with goalkeeper Alisson to gift Jamie Vardy a goal that helped the hosts go on to seal a 3-1 triumph at the King Power Stadium. 

Yet Klopp felt Kabak was still solid despite that incident, with the new signing going on to help the Reds keep RB Leipzig at bay in a 2-0 Champions League victory in midweek. 

"Big potential, 20 years old and already pretty experienced, to be honest," Klopp replied when asked about Kabak in his pre-match press conference ahead of the derby against Everton.  

"He didn't take the easy way in his career so far, when you are in Istanbul when you can play for probably one of the biggest teams in the world [Galatasaray] and always be around at the top of the table.

"Then you go to Stuttgart and Schalke, where you have to fight really hard to win football games. That's good from an education and development point of view.

"Now he's here and looks really promising. Both games, he looked really solid.

"Yes, we all know what happened in the Leicester game, but around this situation he played a really solid game, not to forget who we played that day. They were second or third in the Premier League, a tough one with all the forwards they have.

"He did really well - long may it continue."

Kabak has swapped a Bundesliga relegation battle for a top-four fight with Liverpool and, with Fabinho ruled out again, could be set to continue in the team for the visit of Everton on Saturday.

His performance against Leipzig in the first leg of the last-16 tie certainly suggested he has adapted quickly to the change of scenery. He made twice as many tackles (four) as any of his team-mates in Budapest, also managing a joint match-high three interceptions while completing 84.3 per cent of his attempted passes.

The clean sheet on Tuesday was also a confidence boost for Alisson, as his involvement in the Vardy goal against Leicester came after two high-profile errors in the 4-1 home loss to Manchester City. 

While understanding such moments can lead to self-doubt for any player, Klopp made clear to the media that he has never lost faith in his first-choice keeper. 

"My confidence? Nothing changed. We are all human beings, Ali as well. It's not about telling him he's a world-class goalkeeper, he knows that," the Liverpool boss said.

"If you made a mistake in the game before, the previous games and it's nothing you like, humans are all the same. Ali is too smart to ignore it completely.

"Other personalities would perhaps not struggle, but in the end he can rely – and we can rely – on his quality and his attitude, plus how focused he is during a game, how much he lives in it. 

"There was not one second of doubt. Ali, for sure, did not have the best time between the two games – that's how it is. But the Leipzig game was a really good one to get back."

Liverpool are unbeaten in their previous 23 meetings with Everton in all competitions, which is their longest run against any opponent.

They go into the latest meeting with their neighbours looking to avoid a fourth successive league loss, having not suffered such a run of form in the competition since Gerard Houllier was in charge in December 2002.

Jurgen Klopp saw positive signs from Liverpool but admitted two "massive mistakes" by Alisson proved their downfall in a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City.

The reigning Premier League champions slipped to a third successive home league defeat on Sunday, with the result leaving them well off the pace in the title race.

City now sit five points clear of nearest rivals Manchester United but 10 ahead of Liverpool, while Pep Guardiola's squad also have a game in hand.

Mohamed Salah's penalty cancelled out Ilkay Gundogan's opener in an eventful second half at Anfield, but two blunders by Alisson helped City on their way to a record-equalling 14th successive win in all competitions.

"When you lose 4-1 it's not your day. Big parts of the game were brilliant from my side, we played really good football," Klopp told Sky Sports.

"In the first half we played really good football, against City it just means you are reading the game. Start of the second half, City changed the system slightly to a 4-4-2.

"It's a little adaptation and at the start of the second half we didn't give enough options to play and gave the first goal away. We just gave them a bit too much of an opportunity.

"We scored the equaliser and it looked like the game could now go in our direction. We made two massive mistakes, it's clear, everybody saw them, they used them, then 3-1 it's tough to take. 

"The performance was good for a lot of time. Really good, high level, if we played more before like in these moments we would not be 10 points behind City.

"The goals - we made massive mistakes, if you make them against City it's the killer. That's why we lost the game."

Klopp felt the rest of the team did not help out Alisson for the stray passes that led to City's second and third goals, scored by Gundogan and Raheem Sterling respectively.

The Brazil international is the first Liverpool goalkeeper to make two errors leading directly to a goal in a single game since Loris Karius against Real Madrid in the Champions League final in May 2018.

"It's true as well that we didn't give him a lot of options, especially the first one," the Liverpool boss said.

"I think the second one there is no explanation, maybe he had cold feet or something, it sounds funny but it could be, but still the opportunity was there to kick it into the stands.

"But Ali has saved our lives many times and tonight he made two mistakes."

With a double-digit gap to City, Klopp confirmed his main focus is on sealing a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League. 

They return to league action next Saturday, travelling to third-place Leicester City.

"It is of course our main target, that is clear, we will try everything," Klopp said. "We've enough games to play to secure that but we have to win games."

Pep Guardiola expressed disappointment with Jurgen Klopp's attempt at pre-match mind games after the Liverpool manager falsely claimed Manchester City had "a two-week break for COVID reasons".

Champions Liverpool host Premier League leaders City on Sunday, where Guardiola's men have the chance to go 10 points clear of Klopp's side with a game in hand if they can claim a first win at Anfield since 2003.

Both men addressed the media on Friday, with Klopp speaking first and suggesting a coronavirus outbreak within the City squad between Christmas and new year actually helped their title bid.

Asked about Guardiola's recently repeated mantra that his team - currently on a 20-match unbeaten run across all competitions - are playing better because they have managed to "run less" in possession, Klopp focused his attention upon the spike in infections that saw City's scheduled December 28 trip to Everton postponed.

"The more you keep the ball, the less you have to run, probably. We didn't have a break," he said.

"I think City had a two-week break for COVID reasons. It's really tough. It's a tough year, season; for some teams, it looks like lesser but, for us, for the reasons you know, it's tough."

In reality, City had a seven-day break between their 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day and a January 3 trip to Chelsea, where a squad heavily depleted by a raft of players being forced to self-isolate secured an impressive 3-1 win.

Having started his own briefing later than scheduled, Guardiola opted to respond initially with heavy sarcasm.

"He made a mistake, it was two months off or three months off. Four months we had off. That is why we are in top form right now," he said.

"Jurgen has to see the calendar again. We had COVID, we had one week and we played with 14 players at Stamford Bridge, Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it was three or four weeks.

"Tomorrow when I see Jurgen I'll say to him, 'How many weeks or days were we off?'"

Guardiola famously endured a tempestuous back and fourth with Jose Mourinho when the pair were in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid a decade ago - an affair he was perhaps referencing when stating he held Klopp, whom he also competed against in the Bundesliga, to higher standards.

"I'm surprised," he said. "I thought Jurgen was not that type of manager like other ones [for whom] it is usual to do it. I didn't expect that comment. From him, I didn't expect it.

"He knows it’s not true, come on! Nobody in the Premier League has had two weeks off, everyone knows. In some situation you do it [mind games] for a purpose, but I did not expect he will do it."

Liverpool have lost their past two home games 1-0 to Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion.

Nevertheless, Anfield remains something of a final frontier for Guardiola as City boss, having lost four and drawn one of his five visits to the red side of Stanley Park.

"They are always an incredibly tough team and remain a tough squad," he said.

"They know the process, the skills, the routines and methodology they do offensively. No change.

"They are aggressive and will be more aggressive than ever, I'm pretty sure. They'll rest really well after the game against Brighton and they'll recover in these two weeks off and they will be ready."

City remain without Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring), Nathan Ake (muscular) and Sergio Aguero, who has endured a prolonged absence after testing positive for coronavirus. He is expected to return in a few weeks.

Virgil van Dijk will not play again for Liverpool this season barring "a miracle", according to manager Jurgen Klopp.

It had been reported that Van Dijk could return in April from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in the Merseyside derby last October.

The 29-year-old has been undertaking his rehabilitation in Dubai and was said to be closing in on a return to the pitch, but Klopp does not consider that to be a realistic possibility.

"Whatever happens I think we have space for Virgil on the Champions League list, I think he was on the Premier League list – nobody told me I have to change something with that. If we have space in the Champions League list, Virgil will be on the list," he told a news conference.

"No doctor told me there's a chance for Virgil to play again this season. I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's not likely.

"If we have space we will put them all on even when the medical people tell them there's no chance because we believe in miracles from time to time.

"But if there's no place then we have to consider these things and say the chance is not too big so we have to make a decision. But if they're on the list then it's only because we hope for nearly a miracle and that's it."

With Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and makeshift centre-back Fabinho also out injured, Liverpool brought in Ben Davies from Preston North End and Ozan Kabak from Schalke on deadline day.

Klopp was pleased to have bolstered his defensive options and intends to let Rhys Williams return to the Under-23 squad in order to get more game time.

Liverpool take on Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday and Klopp is hopeful he will not have to throw Davies and Kabak straight into action against Graham Potter's men at Anfield.

"The good thing is it is football and they play football in Germany and the Championship, so that's not the problem," said Klopp.

"[There have been] 12 or 13 different centre-half pairings and then that makes it more difficult for example Neco [Williams] and Kostas [Tsimikas] too.

"You search for stability in the team when you change that often, but we don't live in an idle world and that means we have to be smart and quick and try different things.

"We play differently to Preston and Schalke so they'll need time but we don't have a lot, so we'll use the time we have in our hands and try our best.

"If they had to start Wednesday together I think that would be not too cool, but we will give them a few more days."

Jurgen Klopp insisted Liverpool would only sign "the right player" despite their defensive problems increasing with the loss of Joel Matip to an ankle injury.

Matip missed the 3-2 FA Cup loss at Manchester United last Saturday but returned for Thursday's Premier League win at Tottenham, partnering Jordan Henderson in defence in the absence of Fabinho.

However, the Cameroon international had to be substituted at half-time of the 3-1 victory over Spurs with what Klopp later confirmed as ankle ligament damage.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and Fabinho struggling with another muscle problem, the Reds finished the match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with Henderson alongside the inexperienced Nat Phillips.

Klopp, though, is not prepared to sanction a new signing before the transfer window closes simply to add extra numbers to his squad.

"You can imagine that we think about everything, of course," he said. "We thought the whole time, we think the whole time, it's about doing the right thing.

"I'm not picky or whatever… but we need to find the right player. We have players still. Not a lot, to be honest, in the defence line it is incredible what's happening there, it's really incredible. But that's it."

Liverpool's convincing win over Jose Mourinho's men, delivered through goals from Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane, was just their second in eight games in all competitions.

Firmino's first-half opener ended a wait of 482 minutes for a Premier League goal, in which time the champions had attempted 93 shots without finding the net. 

"I am completely happy about the performance and, yes, it's about the boys," Klopp said. "They put a proper shift in. It was a brave performance in a game against a counter-attacking monster, which they are and that makes it even more special. For tonight, it was really good."

The win moved Liverpool back into fourth place in the table, four points behind leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

On a day when Donny van de Beek hoped to show why he deserves more minutes for Manchester United, up stepped Bruno Fernandes to show why that simply isn't happening.

The eye-catching selection of Van de Beek ahead of Fernandes for this FA Cup clash of giants at Old Trafford was all about "rotation", according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United's manager clearly felt his team could combat a faltering Liverpool team without their star man, albeit leaving him on the bench in case of emergency.

"Donny needs to be playing games as well and it's a big game for Donny to come into," Solskjaer told the BBC.

Van de Beek has not started a Premier League game since he was hauled off with United trailing at half-time at West Ham in early December, and he might not be starting any soon either given how this game transpired.

A 66th-minute switch of the Portuguese for the underwhelming Van de Beek proved pivotal, and the delightful free-kick from Fernandes that settled an absorbing game 3-2 in United's favour was one that had been conceived on Saturday.

"I think he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free-kicks, so I was quite confident that he was going to hit the target," Solskjaer said.

Solskjaer, the erstwhile supersub, knew the calibre of replacement that was up his sleeve, and the rotation worked in a roundabout way. Are we looking at more proof that United's once-maligned Norwegian boss is actually a tactical master?

Liverpool's season, meanwhile, takes another negative turn.

Donny fluffs his big chance

With a mere 18 passes and 23 touches, Van de Beek was peripheral in a midfield where Paul Pogba shone and Scott McTominay fought for every ball.

The former Ajax man had a glorious early chance to stamp his mark on the game when he burst into space on the right and looked sure to dart towards the penalty area, as Edinson Cavani waited for a pass in the centre.

But no. Van de Beek paused and decided to go backwards, and the chance was gone.

This game was a world away from the Anfield snore draw seven days previously in the Premier League, yet Van de Beek largely let it pass him by.

By the time Fernandes cracked his sublime winner into the right corner, Van de Beek must have been wondering when such an opportunity will arise again.

Salah shows he must start

Like Fernandes, Salah has seen his form and contribution questioned in recent weeks, and just as United's match-winner dispelled such criticism, so did Liverpool's main man.

After all the talk about front threes, and which of these sides had the most deadly attacking trio, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp went with a two-man strikeforce, Salah and Roberto Firmino linking up and Sadio Mane on the bench.

Both Salah and Firmino had been substitutes on Thursday for the defeat to Burnley, but they were a combination that United struggled to contain at times here.

Salah struck twice, the first a sublime chip, and Firmino set up both. The Brazilian has now assisted Salah for 18 goals during their time together at Liverpool, the most any player has set up another during Klopp's reign.

Unlike Firmino and Mane, Salah has exceeded his expected goals (xG) in the Premier League this season, with eight non-penalty goals from an xG of 5.3, and if Liverpool are to resurrect their season, the bench is surely no place for the Egyptian.

Glorious Greenwood

Mason Greenwood has not scored in the Premier League since that West Ham game, when he helped United turn their half-time deficit around and earn a 3-1 victory.

Here he looked lively from the early stages, albeit with one too many lollipops and insufficient tasty final product until he cancelled out Salah's opener.

The way the 19-year-old ended an 10-game barren spell spoke volumes of his belief, with Marcus Rashford's sweeping pass over the Liverpool defence finding his wing twin on the right and allowing Greenwood to thump a low shot past Alisson.

With Rashford also on target, this was quite a day to savour for the hosts.

Liverpool "wanted it too much" against Manchester United on Sunday and left themselves exposed, claimed Jurgen Klopp.

On the back of their colossal home record in the league coming to an end at the hands of Burnley on Thursday, Liverpool suffered a second successive defeat as they went down 3-2 in the FA Cup at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes came off the bench to score a stunning free-kick to settle a contest that delivered the quality which the league meeting between the two bitter rivals one week earlier had been severely lacking.

Mohamed Salah scored both of Liverpool's goals in an impressive return to form, with Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford on target for United prior to Fernandes' winner.

United had 41.6 per cent possession but managed to equal Liverpool's tally of attempts (14) and shots on target (six).

For both of United's first two goals, Liverpool were caught cold on the counter.

Klopp believes that was a result of his side being slightly overzealous in their desire to arrest a dismal run of form which has seen them win just once – against Aston Villa's youngsters – in their last seven matches across all competitions.

"There was a lot of good things and some mistakes around the goals. If you want to win here you have to be absolutely top and we were not," Klopp told reporters.

"For the first goal we had no protection, we wanted it too much. Things like this should not happen but they can happen.

"We can take things out of this game, we try to learn from every game. It's good for Mo Salah, good for the confidence. It was a tough game. We want it hard but tonight it was not enough.

"If you win a game there are negatives, if you lose a game too, but I saw the boys really, really wanted it. We had problems on the counter-attack, it was intense, but there were positives."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will face West Ham – and former United manager David Moyes – in the fifth round of the cup, while they also sit pretty at the top of the league as it stands.

After seeing his side fall behind to Salah's 18th-minute chip, Solskjaer was delighted with United's response.

"Brilliant – you know when you go a goal down, the reaction of everyone was really good," he told BBC Sport.

"We played some really good stuff, good goals, we have to defend well against them and we managed to react well and of course towards the end there were some moments but we kept them away."

Fernandes ultimately made the difference, scoring with his only attempt, while he also crafted a chance for Edinson Cavani with a wonderful cross – the experienced forward heading against the post.

"Great goal, good free-kick," Solskjaer said of Fernandes' impact. "When you leave him out like I did today, he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free-kicks so I was pretty confident he could score one if he got the chance.

"He's never happy with me when I tell him to go inside after training when he's playing the next day so he got some practice yesterday."

United are now unbeaten in their last eight home games against Liverpool in all competitions (W4 D4) since a defeat in March 2014.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left Bruno Fernandes out of his starting line-up for Sunday's FA Cup clash with Liverpool.

Fernandes, who has been United's shining light since arriving from Sporting CP almost 12 months ago, was only a substitute for the fourth-round game.

This season he has scored 15 goals and supplied nine assists in 28 games across all competitions from his advanced midfield role, but there have been questions asked about his form in recent weeks.

He has just one goal and no assists in four Premier League appearances since the turn of the year.

Into the United team went former Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek as Solskjaer decided the game presented a chance to rotate his squad, making five changes to the side that won 2-1 at Fulham on Wednesday.

Solskjaer explained why Fernandes did not start, saying on BBC One: "It's rotation in the squad.

"Donny needs to be playing games as well and it's a big game for Donny to come into.

"He's done nothing wrong when he's been around the club so I'm looking forward to seeing him in there."

Premier League leaders United also brought in goalkeeper Dean Henderson, centre-back Victor Lindelof, midfielder Scott McTominay and forward Marcus Rashford, as David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Fred and Anthony Martial dropped out.

Liverpool also showed five changes as Jurgen Klopp looked for a response to Thursday's shock 1-0 home defeat to Burnley, which ended a 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield in the Premier League.

Teenage centre-back Rhys Williams came in for the absent Joel Matip, while James Milner and Curtis Jones were selected as Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dropped to the bench.

Sadio Mane and Divock Origi were also substitutes as Klopp gave starts to Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, with the Old Trafford clash coming a week on from these two sides battling out a dreary goalless draw at Anfield in the league.

Jurgen Klopp insisted talk about Liverpool star Mohamed Salah's contract would not be a distraction.

Salah has a deal at Anfield until 2023, but his future has become a talking point after he refused to rule out a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona in an interview with AS last month.

While Liverpool have struggled for consistency and sit fourth in the Premier League, Salah has netted 13 times to be the top goalscorer in the competition.

Ahead of Sunday's FA Cup clash against Manchester United, Klopp said he had no doubt about Salah's focus despite talk about his future.

"It's not that [players] go out and [volunteer] to talk about the things we think are important. It's pretty rare that that happens," the Liverpool manager told reporters.

"We get asked questions and then we answer and that's then the story and it always sounds like we started the conversation.

"But in Mo's case it's not like that, so no, I don't think it will distract the season."

While Salah is the top goalscorer in the Premier League with 13, five of those have come from the penalty spot.

But his big chance conversion (64.3 per cent) is the highest it has been since he joined Liverpool from Roma in 2017.

However, his dribbles success rate (39) is the lowest since he arrived at Anfield.

Liverpool have won just one of their past six games ahead of their trip to Old Trafford to face rivals United.

Jurgen Klopp is not feeling the pressure despite Liverpool's worrying form, believing the shock home defeat to Burnley can act as a catalyst to "change things properly". 

The reigning champions were downed by a late Ashley Barnes penalty as their 68-game unbeaten run at home in the Premier League come to a stunning end on Thursday. 

Klopp watched on as his team endured a fourth successive league outing without scoring, leaving them six points off the pace in the title race. 

Ahead of Sunday's FA Cup tie with league leaders Manchester United, Klopp explained how Liverpool have not used the right tools of late, something the Reds will work hard to correct as they look to get back to somewhere near their best.

"I don't feel the pressure from outside, I deal with the pressure I put on myself my entire life. I'm used to that already," Klopp told the media while previewing the trip to Old Trafford. 

"When you have had the success we've had, there are two directions then. One is you keep going exactly on the same level, which is difficult with the challenges you have around. The other one is it gets a little bit less. 

"At the moment, it feels like a lot less. That's what we have to change, we are not like this where we think that just because we try, we should get everything. We are really ready for the fight; we are ready for the battle, 100 per cent. 

"But, in the moment, we don't use the right tools. That is true as well. That is what we absolutely have to adjust and improve, and that's what we are doing. 

"The only problem is the tests we face are constantly in the public and on television, so everybody watches each little step in whatever direction. That is obviously nice when you have a good run, and when not in a good a run it's not exactly the same, you don't get the same joy with it." 

Liverpool are on a five-game winless streak in the Premier League and while the loss to struggling Burnley was disappointing, Klopp hopes it can be turned into a positive, offering something of a reset point during what is an arduous season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The Reds had 27 attempts at goal on Thursday, six of which were on target, while they have now had 87 efforts since previously finding the net in the league, a run that started after Sadio Mane's early opener in the 1-1 draw with West Brom on December 27.

Klopp's side are the first English top-flight team since West Ham in 1967 to have failed to find the net in four successive league matches, yet still be the division's top scorers.

"In these moments, I'm not in doubt about us as a group at all," Klopp – who also confirmed Mohamed Salah is set to start against United – said. 

"But these moments are where you need the group to come close together and do the right things. That's what we do. 

"We lost that game [to Burnley] and it was a really low point. It was not like I thought, 'Oh, who cares?' – it was a game we lost.  

"When I think back, I cannot find a reason why we lost that game, but we lost it. With all the things that happened – the penalty, the chance we had, all these kind of things – but it happened. 

"Sometimes, you need a really low point to change things properly. That, for sure, is what we will try now, 100 per cent. 

"If we would have won in a bad game, somehow 1-0, the world would have said it's not the football that we usually play but it's a result. But, in the long term, it wouldn't be a real help. That game can be a real help, if we use it."

Liverpool have only reached the FA Cup fifth round once in Klopp's five previous seasons at the club, doing so last term before they were knocked out by top-flight rivals Chelsea.

Jurgen Klopp acknowledges signing a centre-back would help Liverpool, yet he will not be getting frustrated over a lack of activity by the club in the January transfer window. 

The reigning Premier League champions have been left with a shortage of options in defence due to long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while Joel Matip has struggled for fitness. 

However, Thursday's 1-0 defeat to Burnley saw the Reds endure a fourth successive league outing without scoring, an issue that Klopp insists would not be resolved by adding defensive reinforcements. 

The Liverpool boss understands that the financial implications of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic make it tough to add new faces, so he instead focuses on working with the players he does have at his disposal. 

"I'm not a five-year-old kid any more in that if I don't get what I want I start crying," Klopp told the media ahead of Sunday's FA Cup trip to Manchester United.

"Most of the time in my life I didn't get what I wanted, to be honest, so we are all pretty much used to that. It's not like this. 

"I'm responsible for a big part of this football club, but there are people who are responsible for the whole thing. I cannot make their decisions, I know they are with us and they support us, because they do.  

"Now we talk about a centre-half. Yes, it would help, 100 per cent. Would we score more goals with a centre-half? I'm not sure. Would it give us a little bit more stability in specific moments? Probably, yes. 

"But, again, it's not about that. It's not about what would be with somebody else, and I think never ever have we spoken in and around a transfer window like this about it, because I think that would then read as an excuse and we don't need that. 

"What we have to do is improve the football we play in a decisive area with this squad, not sitting here disappointed or frustrated with some decisions. I'm not." 

Liverpool did spend in the previous transfer window, adding Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich and Diogo Jota, who arrived from Wolves, but was sidelined by injury after a promising start. Konstantinos Tsimikas also joined from Olympiacos, though the left-back has featured sparingly.

Klopp has used inexperienced duo Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips for some games at the back, while midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have filled in at the heart of the defence too.

"We know what we would do in an ideal world, but it is not ideal. We have to deal with this situation, this is what we all have to do," Klopp continued. 

"A centre-half last night [against Burnley] would not have won us the game in this specific situation, so we really don't have to talk about it. 

"I know it's a good thing to talk about - for you [the media] - but for me it's just not that important. Everything is on the table and all the things are clear - we just have to work on the football stuff." 

Liverpool have had 87 attempts at goal since their last Premier League goal, including 27 against Burnley at Anfield as their 68-game unbeaten home run in the competition came to an end. 

Klopp will hope for a change of fortune in the FA Cup, though the German has only reached the fifth round once during his time in charge on Merseyside. 

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