Fabinho will definitely be back available for Liverpool's Champions League final against Real Madrid, manager Jurgen Klopp has said.

The Reds were dealt a huge blow ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea with the news that the Brazil international has been ruled out with a muscular injury.

Fabinho was forced off during the first half of Tuesday's 2-1 win over Aston Villa and will not return in time for this weekend's trip to Wembley.

However, providing a further update at his pre-Chelsea news conference on Friday, Klopp confirmed the 28-year-old will be available to face Madrid in Paris on May 28.

"He will definitely be back for the Champions League final," Klopp said. "Whether he will play before that, we don't yet know.

"Fab is a professional. He was obviously not happy about missing the Chelsea match, but he took it and is already taking on the fight against time, if you want. That's how it is.

“It is not enough if you are ready on Friday before the final, it should be Tuesday or Wednesday or something like that and we are working on that.

"We are all very positive that it will be the case. So he is absolutely OK."

Liverpool have lost just three of the 47 games that Fabinho has played in this season, conceding 0.7 goals per game compared to 0.9 in the 12 matches he has not featured.

Jordan Henderson is likely to return to central midfield alongside Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara for the clash with Chelsea, and Klopp has full confidence others can step up.

"If all the other boys didn't show the attitude they have had in training all season, we'd have had no chance this season," he said. That's been very important."

Liverpool are competing in their first FA Cup final since 2011-12 when losing 2-1 to Chelsea, with the most recent of their seven triumphs in the competition coming in 2006.

The Reds have already lifted one cup at the national stadium this year, though, having overcome Chelsea on penalties following a goalless draw in February's EFL Cup final.

Klopp's side are therefore looking to win both of England's domestic cup competitions in the same season for the first time since 2000-01, when also winning the UEFA Cup.

"We didn't 'beat' Chelsea. We won the penalty shoot-out," Klopp said. "I've said a few times, without luck you have no chance, and luck was on our side that day.

"It was a tough, tight game and we know how good Chelsea are and we expect another tough game.

"Both teams will go for all they have. That's what I expect from Chelsea and that's what I especially expect from us this time.

"It's the biggest domestic cup competition in the world. I haven't watched 20 FA Cup finals but I don't think that's necessary to understand how big it is.

"We are really looking forward to this opportunity. The boys worked their socks off to arrive here, with all the different challenges over the year.

"It's now a massive final for us and I'm really happy we are part of it. We always gave our all to arrive to the final [in previous years], we just didn't make it."

The three previous meetings between Liverpool and Chelsea this season have finished level and Klopp is anticipating another tight contest against Thomas Tuchel's side.

"Chelsea are a really well-coached team. They have a similar system to others but a different level," he said.

"They have an idea for all areas. They're organised defensively and offensively, with incredible talent. We have no idea how Thomas will line up. There are so many options."

Fabinho has been ruled out of Saturday's FA Cup final, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes the midfielder will return before the end of the season.

Brazil international Fabinho was forced off during the first half of Liverpool's 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday.

It was subsequently confirmed that the 28-year-old had sustained a muscle problem and Klopp has confirmed he will not feature against Chelsea at Wembley.

However, Klopp is confident that Fabinho will make his comeback in time to play against Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28.

"There's a good chance that he will be available for the Champions League final," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "Not for the weekend."

Liverpool trail Manchester City by three points in the Premier League, with two games remaining. They face Southampton next week and host Wolves in the final fixture of the campaign.

Palmeiras midfielder Danilo has been granted his first call-up to the Brazil squad, while Tite selected Fabinho for the upcoming friendlies in June despite injury concerns over the Liverpool star.

Brazil announced a 27-man squad on Wednesday for friendlies against Korea Republic, Japan and South American rivals Argentina next month.

Fabinho is one of 13 Premier League players called up, despite the midfielder limping off in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday after suffering a muscle injury.

Reports suggest Fabinho will miss the upcoming FA Cup final against Chelsea, along with league games against Wolves and Southampton, as he faces a race against the clock to feature in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28 as Liverpool hunt an unprecedented quadruple.

Fellow midfielder Danilo was the other notable inclusion by Tite, with the Palmeiras man earning his maiden call-up after impressing at the Club World Cup, where his side were defeated in the final by Chelsea.

On Danilo's inclusion, Tite told reporters: "Danilo is one of those players that we have been following, we are always attentive to players that are emerging. 

"Danilo played well at the Club World Cup in games that we followed live and made visits to the club. We were looking at a series of things on how he performs so we could justify his selection."

Fabinho's Liverpool team-mate Alisson also made the list, along with fellow goalkeeper Ederson, while Manchester United duo Alex Telles and Fred were named alongside Arsenal's Gabriel Magalhaes.

Newcastle United's Bruno Guimaraes was again selected by Tite and will look to add to his six caps, but there was no room for Magpies team-mate Joelinton, who has impressed since dropping into midfield under Eddie Howe.

Casemiro could partner Guimaraes in the middle alongside Lyon's Lucas Paqueta, while Weverton and Guilherme Arana were the only other two players to feature from Brazil's domestic league.

Tite will have vast experience in the backline to call upon as well, with the likes of Alex Sandro, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos to select from.

Up top, Gabriel Jesus will look to carry over his scoring form from his exploits with Manchester City, with Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Real Madrid's Champions League hero Rodrygo part of a star-studded attacking line-up.

The upcoming friendlies are part of Brazil's penultimate preparations for the 2022 World Cup, where Tite's side are placed in Group G alongside Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Manchester United), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Danilo (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico-MG), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain) and Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Danilo (Palmeiras), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon) and Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphinha (Leeds), Richarlison (Everton), Rodrygo (Real Madrid) and Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Liverpool overcame a spirited Villarreal performance to book their spot in the Champions League final with a 3-2 away win, netting three second-half goals after seeing their first-leg lead wiped out in Spain.

Boulaye Dia handed Unai Emery's men an early lead in front of a boisterous home crowd, before Francis Coquelin stunned the below-par visitors by wiping out their aggregate lead on the stroke of half-time.

But Liverpool grew into the game after their dismal start, and after Geronimo Rulli failed to make a routine stop from Fabinho's effort, half-time substitute Diaz headed home to send Jurgen Klopp's men to the final.

Sadio Mane raced clear to round Rulli and roll home a late third to make the result safe before Etienne Capoue was sent off late on, keeping the Reds on course to cap an incredible season by winning four major trophies.

After failing to record a single shot on target at Anfield, the Yellow Submarine needed just three minutes to open the scoring, Dia tapping home after Capoue turned Pervis Estupinan's delivery across goal.

Gerard Moreno saw a close-range header blocked as the visitors produced a dreadful first-half performance, and the Reds' advantage, which looked to be decisive prior to kick-off, was wiped out when Coquelin sparked wild scenes by heading Capoue's cross into the top-left corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold struck the top of the crossbar with a deflected effort as Liverpool improved after the break, before Fabinho drilled a low shot through the legs of Rulli to restore the visitors' aggregate lead after 62 minutes.

Diaz went close to bending home a superb second moments later, but was on hand to nod home Alexander-Arnold's cross after 67 minutes and put the Reds back in full command of the tie.

The tie was settled once and for all when Mane took advantage of another Rulli error after 74 minutes, rounding the keeper well outside his area before rolling home to secure Liverpool's progress, with Capoue then dismissed for a second yellow card after fouling Curtis Jones.

Jurgen Klopp has revealed he expected nothing less than the stern examination Liverpool were given en route to a 3-1 win at Benfica.

The Reds took control of the sides' Champions League quarter-final tie with victory in Portugal but the game was far less comfortable than the scoreline perhaps suggests.

The hosts created a string of chances after Darwin Nunez had halved the deficit early in the second period and were somewhat unfortunate to concede a potentially decisive Luis Diaz goal late on.

However, the challenge posed by Benfica certainly did not surprise Reds boss Klopp, who said: "In the end, coming here in an away game in the Champions League is tough. Obviously, Benfica fought for their lives. 

"We opened the door a little bit too much but they deserved the goal as well, even when we could have defended probably better. It's not that had absolutely no situations before.

"It was a tough game, what I expected, especially when they scored the crowd was there immediately. We knew it, we always know it, 2-0 is nothing, it's nice but not more. 

"They scored the goal and it was much more open than we wanted but, in the end, we should have scored [more] in the first half, could have scored in the second. 

"They played a really good game but the goalie was anyway the best player, he made a couple of really good saves. That's it, we won it, two goals up, half-time, not more, not less, let's keep going."

Klopp went on to provide a positive update on midfielder Fabinho, who was involved in a nasty clash of heads with Nicolas Otamendi in the final minutes of normal time.

He added: "Fabinho has a little cut – he's fine. It is a cut in the back of his head. It will need a bit of time but he should be fine.”

The German also refused to get overly excited about Liverpool's chances of progression to the semi-finals, insisting Benfica will remain dangerous at Anfield.

He continued: "It's half-time, we have a much better result than before, we know much more about the opponent. 

"They will go for it again, they won at Ajax and ground out all the results they needed in the group stage.

"We are aware of the quality and now we have a nice game in between [against Manchester City] but then we will be ready again for Benfica."

Liverpool moved above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Watford in Saturday's early kick-off at Anfield.

The Reds knew that victory would see them leapfrog City, who face Burnley later in the day, for the first time since November 27 – even if only for a matter of hours.

Diogo Jota headed in from a Joe Gomez cross after 22 minutes to open the scoring and substitute Fabinho sealed a battling win with a penalty in the final minute.

Liverpool have now won 10 league games in a row ahead of next weekend's huge showdown with City, who are two points worse off with their game at Turf Moor to come.

Watford more than held their own in the early stages of the game and would have been in front if not for a good stop from Alisson to deny Juraj Kucka.

That proved a huge save as, a little over 30 seconds later, right-back Gomez – filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold – whipped in a cross for Jota to turn in from four yards. 

Jota nearly made it 15 league goals for the season shortly after, only to be denied by Ben Foster when he had Jordan Henderson screaming out for the pass alongside him.

Watford, in action for the first time in three weeks, continued to cause Liverpool problems as Joao Pedro fired wide in plenty of space once played in by Ismaila Sarr.

Jota saw a couple of headed chances come and go but Fabinho made certain of the win when thumping in a late penalty, awarded for Kucka dragging down Jota in the box.

What does it mean? Reds set up tantalising showdown

Liverpool were never at their best but got the job done to become the second club, after City, to record five different runs of 10 or more victories in the Premier League era.

The Reds have kept eight clean sheets during that incredible run and will head to the Etihad Stadium next weekend with wind in their sails.

They have now won 13 of their 14 home league games against Watford, who remain in the relegation zone and are running out of fixtures to drag themselves out of danger.

Gomez fills Trent void

No player has scored more opening goals in the Premier League this season than Jota (six), who had a brilliant Gomez cross from the right to thank for his latest headed goal.

That was Gomez's first assist in the top flight since December 2017 and means Liverpool have had 22 players involved in league goals this term, two more than any other side.

Salah's off day

Salah had previously been directly involved in 11 goals in seven league games against Watford, averaging a goal involvement every 57 minutes, but he was off the pace here.

He suffered World Cup qualifying heartbreak with Egypt in the week and that perhaps told as he failed to find the target from any of his three attempts.

What's next?

Liverpool travel to Benfica for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, while Watford host Leeds United on their return to league action in a week's time.

Arsene Wenger has accused Liverpool midfielder Fabinho of "cheating" in order to get Alexis Sanchez sent off in Tuesday's Champions League tie with Inter.

Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by the Italian champions in the second leg at Anfield but still advanced to the quarter-finals by virtue of a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Sanchez's dismissal came at a pivotal moment in the tie, the Chile international being shown a second yellow two minutes after Lautaro Martinez had struck to give Inter hope.

The former Arsenal and Manchester United player clearly got some of the ball but followed through on Fabinho, who got back to his feet once the red card had been issued.

It was the first red card Sanchez has received in his 64 games in the Champions League, and Wenger suggested Fabinho more than played his part in the referee's decision.

"It was borderline between cheating and being clever," Wenger, who worked with Sanchez at Arsenal between 2014 and 2018, told beIN SPORTS. 

"He was cheating, he made more of it. Maybe he had pain, he was touched by Sanchez. You cannot say it was completely fake. Maybe he could have got up quicker. 

"It's one of those fouls – when it's one of your plays you say it's clever; when you're completely neutral like we're supposed to be you can say he could have made less of it.

"He didn't want to hurt him, he played the ball first."

 

Sanchez is the first Inter player to be given his marching orders in the knockout stages of the Champions League since Cristian Chivu against Schalke in April 2011.

The 33-year-old, who was credited with the assist for Martinez's strike, had earlier been cautioned for a lunge on Thiago Alcantara.

And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt that challenge alone late in the first half was worthy of a straight red card for Sanchez.

"I think he was lucky he hadn't got a red card in the first half, going in so high on Thiago onto his knee," Klopp said at his post-match news conference. 

"Passion is good, absolutely good, but if it leads to these kind of things then it doesn't help."

On the red card incident, Klopp added: "If you can win the ball only [then it is acceptable] but if you endanger an opponent when you do it, then you don't win the ball. 

"If Fabinho goes in with the same intention, with the leg out, then both players get injured."

Despite victory on the night, Inter have now been eliminated from each of their last three Champions League knockout ties since beating Bayern Munich in the 2010-11 last 16.

Liverpool responded to Manchester City's thrashing of Norwich by recording a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley.

Fabinho struck the only goal in the first half, as the Reds continued their fine set-piece record on a day when set-plays proved decisive across the Premier League.

Elsewhere, Raul Jimenez starred as Wolves leapfrogged Tottenham with a shock 2-0 win, and Newcastle continued their revival with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, thanks to Kieran Tripper's free-kick.

The final game of the day saw West Ham rescue a dramatic 2-2 draw at Leicester City, with Craig Dawson netting a stoppage-time equaliser.

Burnley 0-1 Liverpool: Reds reap rewards of set-piece focus

Liverpool did not produce a vintage performance, but Jurgen Klopp's men kept leaders Manchester City on their toes by earning a vital away win.

The Reds had to work hard for the three points against Burnley at Turf Moor. After managing 27 shots, nine attempts on target and 50 touches in Burnley's penalty area in the reverse fixture at Anfield last August, Liverpool had just over half as many touches in Burnley's 18-yard box this time (26), managing 12 shots in total and just four on target.

However, Klopp's men dug deep to find a winning goal, and did so courtesy of their fantastic set-piece record. Excluding penalties, 14 of Liverpool’s 61 Premier League goals this season have come via set-pieces, more than any other team and more than the tally they recorded in the top-flight last term (13).

Fabinho's winning goal also means he has scored more goals in his last seven matches (five) than he managed in his first 142 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions (four).

Meanwhile, the Anfield outfit also maintained their record of having won each of their games in which the Brazilian has netted for the club, with that run now reaching eight matches.

Tottenham 0-2 Wolves: Jimenez proves decisive at Spurs once again

It was Wolves, rather than Tottenham, who asserted their top-four credentials by recording a huge win in north London, with Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker firing the visitors to a 2-0 win.

Mexican striker Jimenez has now scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances away at Spurs (three goals), with Wolves winning each of those contests.

Indeed, Jimenez has now scored four times in six appearances against Tottenham, and has only scored more Premier League goals against Southampton and Everton (five).

For Antonio Conte's Spurs, the defeat was their third Premier League reverse in succession, and they also lost three consecutive league games under Nuno Espirito Santo in September 2021. This marks the first time they have had multiple three-match losing games in a Premier League campaign since 2004-05 (also two).

Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa: Another free-kick continues Toon revival

Newcastle's clash with Aston Villa was not exactly one for the purists, featuring the third-lowest expected goals tally of the entire Premier League season so far, but Tripper ensured that it was a memorable day for the Magpies.

Trippier's 35th-minute free-kick was enough to see off Steven Gerrard's men in a contest where both teams created just 0.5 xG apiece.

Remarkably, Newcastle have now scored a direct free-kick goal in each of their last three Premier League games (Jonjo Shelvey at Leeds, followed by Trippier against Everton and Aston Villa), becoming the first side to do so since Liverpool in December 2013.

In a game of fine margins, the England right-back showed the quality that he brings to the Magpies' relegation fight, and he is now the first Newcastle player to score direct free-kick goals in consecutive Premier League games since Hugo Viana did so in May 2003.

Jurgen Klopp appeared thrilled – and a little relieved – that Liverpool avoided slipping up away to Burnley on Sunday as they won 1-0 at Turf Moor.

Fabinho got Liverpool's decisive goal just before half-time, bundling in at the second time of asking after Sadio Mane flicked on a corner delivery.

But it was by no means a straightforward victory, as Burnley had their fair share of opportunities in the first half.

In total, Alisson had to make five saves – only once in his Premier League career has the Brazilian been forced into more in a single game (six, against Southampton in May 2021).

Although Burnley sit rooted to the bottom of the table, Klopp was under no illusions that the Clarets represented a potential "banana skin".

As such, he was in a good mood as the Reds ensured they can still trim Manchester City's lead at the summit to six points if they win their game in hand.

Klopp told Sky Sports: "A perfect afternoon – raining and windy. We scored from a set-piece and it was a brilliant goal, to be honest.

"Everything today was set up to be a banana skin for us. The balls in the air were so tricky to defend because the wind came from all directions. We played the circumstances rather than suffered from them.

"Most of their chances were offside but of course they had their moments, that is clear. They have quality, but we dealt with it pretty well.

"We had to work incredibly hard and that is what the boys did. We made our shirts dirty. I am really happy because I know how difficult it is to come here. Absolutely satisfied."

Defeat leaves Burnley with just one win from their first 21 Premier League games this season – they are the first club to have so few victories at this stage of a campaign since Derby County (also one win) in 2007-08.

As for Liverpool, they have now won each of their last six league games without conceding against sides who have started the day bottom of the table.

Liverpool continue to keep Premier League leaders Manchester City on their toes after claiming a slender 1-0 win at rock-bottom Burnley on Sunday.

City beat Norwich City 4-0 on Saturday to open up a 12-point gap at the top, but the Reds responded at Turf Moor by trimming that lead again, meaning they can still reduce the deficit to six if they win their game in hand.

It was by no means straightforward for Jurgen Klopp's men, however. Alisson was forced into several important saves in the first half as Burnley wasted numerous opportunities.

Liverpool had threatened as well and finally took the lead just before the break through Fabinho, and that ultimately proved decisive as the Reds did a far better job of controlling the contest after half-time.

In an entertaining opening 45, Alisson was the first of the two goalkeepers to be called into meaningful action by Josh Brownhill's 30-yard strike, before also denying Maxwel Cornet from close range.

Nick Pope then brilliantly got down to keep Naby Keita's effort out – Burnley countered from the resulting corner and should have scored, but Wout Weghorst's finish was poor.

Jay Rodriguez was the next to be thwarted by Alisson at point-blank range, with Sadio Mane then blasting at Pope from Trent Alexander-Arnold's delivery into the six-yard box a minute later.

Weghorst subsequently squandered another chance soon after and the Reds capitalised, Fabinho bundling over the line after Mane flicked on a corner.

Aside from a Ben Mee header, chances dried up drastically after the interval with the two teams' combined xG for the second half up to the 80th minute sitting at just 0.15.

Mee nearly turned a Salah pass into his own net late on and Diogo Jota saw an effort deflected wide when he looked destined to score, but it mattered not for the Reds.

Chelsea once again downed Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in the headline clash of the weekend's Premier League fixtures.

Fellow title hopefuls Liverpool, who still have a game in hand, closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to nine points with victory over Crystal Palace in south London.

Staying in the capital, Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by lowly Burnley as they lost ground in the race for the top four, while Leicester City shared the points with Brighton and Hove Albion.

With the action all over for a couple of weeks, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from Sunday's fixtures.

Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool: Reds down Eagles again as Robertson delivers

Liverpool reduced Manchester City's advantage at the top to nine points after a 3-1 victory over Palace, who have lost each of their last 10 league meetings with the Reds.

Virgil van Dijk placed Jurgen Klopp's side in control after just eight minutes at Selhurst Park with his 10th headed goal in the competition – only Sami Hyypia (17) has scored more headers for the Reds in the Premier League.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added a second after the half-hour mark as he scored in back-to-back top-flight matches for the first time since February 2020.

Both of those goals were created by Andrew Robertson, who now sits joint-second with team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold (both 43) for the most assists in the league since the start of the 2017-18 season, with only Kevin De Bruyne boasting more (52).

Odsonne Edouard halved the deficit in the second half, but Fabinho secured three points with Liverpool's 169th Premier League spot-kick – the joint-most awarded to a team in the competition's history along with Manchester United.

Arsenal 0-0 Burnley: Gunners fail to fire against Clarets

Arsenal have failed to win any of their opening five games of a calendar year for the first time since 1995 after being held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley.

Nick Pope was in excellent form, while Alexandre Lacazette spurned a glorious open-goal opportunity, as the Clarets conceded 20 shots – the most they have faced in the Premier League without conceding since May 2021 (21 versus Fulham).

Lacazette's profligacy meant the Gunners have failed to score in four consecutive matches across all competitions for the first time since December 2005.

Arsenal will be desperate to improve upon their torrid run of form to challenge for the top four, with this stalemate being the first time the Gunners have failed to beat the team starting the day bottom of the table at home for the first time since October 2008.

Leicester City 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Foxes tamed by away specialists

Leicester remained unbeaten at home to Brighton in the Premier League, though Brendan Rodgers may feel they should have claimed victory after a 1-1 draw.

Patson Daka broke the deadlock as he became just the second Foxes player to score in each of his first three home starts in the competition, after Leonardo Ulloa in the 2014-15 season.

The Zambia striker found the net just 26 seconds after the interval, the quickest goal scored in the second half of a top-flight game since February 2020.

However, Danny Welbeck levelled things up as he scored his fourth goal against Leicester in the Premier League, only bettering that haul in games with Aston Villa (five).

Neither side could find a late winner, ensuring the Foxes remain unbeaten at home to the Seagulls in the top flight since December 1980, while Graham Potter's side have only lost one of their last 11 away leagues games – a joint-low with Manchester City.

Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: Blues make London derby history  

Chelsea registered their fourth win in all competitions this season – and third in January alone – over London rivals Tottenham with a 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge.

Harry Kane thought he had struck first before the break but a slight push on Thiago Silva saw his finish ruled out before Hakim Ziyech expertly curled in his fifth league goal for Chelsea – all five of those having come at different venues.

Silva added a second soon after as he became the oldest player (37 years, 123 days) to score in the Premier League since February 2013 to condemn Antonio Conte to his first top-flight defeat as Spurs head coach.

The defender's header was set up by a free-kick from Mason Mount, who provided his 20th assist since the start of the 2019-20 campaign – the most by any Chelsea player across all competitions in that period.

Spurs were unable to breach the Blues' goal, meaning they have now gone six matches across all competitions since last scoring against Chelsea, who became the first side to collect 500 points in Premier League London derby matches (501 points from 272 derbies).

Jurgen Klopp saluted the patience and desire demonstrated by Liverpool during their 3-0 win over Brentford.

Goals from Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino lifted the Reds above Chelsea to reach second place in the Premier League table.

Despite enjoying 74 per cent of possession and registering 12 shots before the break, Klopp's side had to be patient for the breakthrough against stubborn opponents at Anfield.

It arrived just before half-time as Fabinho headed in from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner, and they pressed home their advantage after the break with two goals in eight minutes sealing the points.

Klopp was pleased by the way his players were able to adapt to the challenges posed by the Bees.

"It's extremely uncomfortable to play against Brentford, to be honest," Klopp told BBC Sport. "They usually play differently, but the way they play against us is really difficult.

"There were so many moments where the ball was in the air and the moment it was on the ground, we had to start playing football.

"It was not always fluent, but that's how it is very often – the set-pieces can be the opener. That was the case today. We could have scored maybe before, but then the next two goals were outstanding.

"You need patience. You cannot lose focus or get sloppy. You have to stay full of desire even when you don't find direction. We had to switch sides, play it quick and all these kinds of things. We really controlled it in the second half."

Fabinho got the ball rolling with his third goal in as many games, having netted twice in the FA Cup win over Shrewsbury Town last weekend.

"We needed these three points and a good performance, so it was nice to do it in front of our fans," the Brazilian midfielder said. "It will be good to grow our confidence.

"It's always nice to score here at Anfield. When I can help the team in the offensive part of the pitch, it's always important for me as well.

"The team played really well with the ball. We created a lot of opportunities to score. It is a chance for everybody to show their quality and step up. We did that today."

Liverpool moved second in the Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Brentford at Anfield.

These two sides played out a thrilling six-goal draw in the reverse fixture but Sunday's contest was decidedly more one-sided, as Jurgen Klopp's men showed a good reaction to their goalless draw with 10-man Arsenal in the EFL Cup.

Fabinho headed in a first-half opener before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's first league goal of the season and a tap-in from Takumi Minamino sealed the points in the closing stages.

Virgil van Dijk went closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening half-hour, his attempt following a corner brilliantly turned away from the bottom-right corner by Alvaro Fernandez.

The hosts created little else but gifted Brentford some openings with some slack play at the back, with Ivan Toney shooting narrowly wide after a poor Joel Matip clearance.

An offside flag then intervened in another promising Brentford break, and they were behind three minutes later, Fabinho nodding in at the far post after Trent Alexander-Arnold's inswinging corner had bounced through a crowded box.

Bryan Mbeumo fired just past Alisson's left-hand post at the start of the second half, while at the other end, Diogo Jota smashed a shot off the base of the post and Fernandez smothered Roberto Firmino's rebound.

Fernandez again denied Jota when the Portugal forward burst into the box, but Liverpool's pressure eventually told, Oxlade-Chamberlain diving at the back post to head home Andy Robertson's cross from the left.

Firmino then pounced on Brentford's sluggish attempt to pass out from the back before laying the ball off to Minamino to slot home a birthday goal.

What does it mean? Liverpool looking like Manchester City's sole challengers

City's 1-0 win over Chelsea put them 12 points ahead of the European champions at the top of the table, and Liverpool's win here sent them into second place.

Should they win their game in hand over Pep Guardiola's side, the Reds will cut the gap at the summit to eight points – hardly small, but not beyond their means.

They are now arguably the only side who can mount any sort of threat to City's title bid.

Ox in the box

Deployed in Mohamed Salah's usual position on the right of the attack, Oxlade-Chamberlain showed the kind of efficiency in his play to make the Egypt star proud.

While he had the fewest touches (38) of any starting Liverpool player, he created a joint-high three chances and showed great determination to meet Robertson's cross.

Bees lose their sting

After Liverpool's struggle to break down Arsenal in their previous game, Brentford might have viewed this as a chance to build on their impressive performance in the home fixture.

As it was, they failed to muster an attempt on target until a tame Toney effort in injury time as they slumped to a fourth defeat in five league games.

What's next?

Liverpool face Arsenal in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Thursday before a league trip to Crystal Palace in a week's time. Brentford have two full days to recover before the visit of Manchester United.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Thiago and Curtis Jones are all out of their coronavirus-enforced isolation ahead of the trip to Leicester City.

The Reds called upon Thiago but were without the other three for the 3-1 victory over Newcastle on December 16 after the club announced the trio were isolating following suspected positive COVID-19 tests.

Thiago then returned a positive test before Liverpool's 2-2 draw at Tottenham three days later, with all four also missing the Reds' victory on penalties against Leicester in the Carabao Cup, prior to the postponement of their Boxing Day clash with Leeds United due to a coronavirus outbreak in Marcelo Biela's camp.

"The boys who had to isolate are back - Fab, Virg, Curtis and Thiago," Klopp told reporters as he provided an update at Monday's pre-match news conference. "Thiago trained yesterday with the team.

"We have one young player who is isolating and two staff members. We don't know which variant our guys get. We've seen our cases over the past two years. When you are vaccinated and boosted, you don't get symptoms."

Klopp added that his side were capable of facing Leeds on Sunday, though he understands the fixture had to be called off due to coronavirus issues coinciding with injury problems within Bielsa's squad.

However, the former Borussia Dortmund head coach again vented his scheduling concerns amid a chaotic festive period.

He continued: "The situation should not be like this. I say it every year. Playing on 26th [December] and 28th is not right. I say it because it's true. I think we can find solutions, it's not difficult. It would help players, even with no Covid.

"Is it the toughest [season]? I don't know. This time of year is always tough. I can say that. It's not a problem, it's what we're used to. We prepare for a long season and part of that is December/January."

The Reds boss expects another tough task against Leicester after the Foxes were outscored in a 6-3 thriller against leaders Manchester City, who Liverpool sit six points behind with a game in hand.

"Leicester are not in a good situation," Klopp said of Tuesday's opponents. "They have injuries. We went out for training when it was 4-0 [to City] and then I was told it was 4-3.

"Wow! They were obviously close. They are a good team and what Brendan [Rodgers] is doing is exceptional."

History favours Liverpool heading into their final clash of 2021, given the Reds have not lost their final league game in any of the last seven calendar years and have won three of their last four away top-flight games at the King Power Stadium.

Rodgers is likely to be without Timothy Castagne and Jonny Evans as the Foxes' defensive issues persist, having already conceded 63 goals in 39 Premier League games this year.

Liverpool have also been boosted by the news of a delayed departure for Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita, making them available for the visits to both Leicester on Tuesday and Chelsea on Sunday.

Liverpool will be without Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones for Thursday's Premier League clash with Newcastle United after they returned suspected positive COVID-19 tests.

The Reds revealed just over an hour before kick-off that defender Van Dijk will miss the match at Anfield along with midfielders Fabinho and Jones.

Ibrahima Konate partners Joel Matip at the heart of the Liverpool defence in the absence of Van Dijk.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, captain Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara make up Jurgen Klopp's midfield, with forward Diogo Jota coming into the starting line-up.

Soaring numbers of coronavirus cases have led to further Premier League matches being postponed this weekend, with Everton's trip to Leicester City, West Ham's home game against Norwich City, Watford's match against Crystal Palace and Southampton's clash with Brentford off.

It was earlier announced that Manchester United will not face Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday due to an outbreak in the Red Devils camp, while also led to their match at Brentford on Tuesday being postponed.

Leicester's home game against Tottenham on Thursday was also called off due to positive cases in the FA Cup holders' squad, while Burnley's home fixture with Watford could not be played on Tuesday.

The Premier League said in a statement: "The board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and COVID-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs.

"It will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.

"The board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with.

"With the health and wellbeing of all players and staff the priority, and in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Premier League has reintroduced emergency measures.

"These include protocols such as more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time."

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