Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists the Reds still have work to do to secure a spot in the Champions League final, and expects Villarreal to try "with all they have" in Tuesday's semi-final second leg.

The Reds are still chasing a historic quadruple after beating the Yellow Submarine 2-0 in last week's first leg at Anfield, with goals from Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane putting Klopp's team on the brink of a third Champions League final during his seven-year tenure.

Klopp's team produced a dominant performance at Anfield to restrict Villarreal to no attempts on target, and could become the first team since Porto in 2003-04 (against Deportivo La Coruna) to not concede a single shot on target across a two-legged Champions League semi-final.

Liverpool also recorded 22 high turnovers as they suffocated Unai Emery's team, the most by a team in a Champions League knockout game this season and the most Klopp's Reds have ever produced in the competition.

However, Klopp insisted his team would have to withstand a fierce Villarreal response on Tuesday, and said Liverpool would not take anything for granted.

"No [the tie is not over], we know that. It's half-time. In the best possible way, we ignore the result from the first game," Klopp told his pre-match press conference.

"As if it was a cup tie with only one leg and it would be decided in Villarreal, we will try to win there, that's what we want to try, knowing that they will go with all they have, that was clear with all the things Unai said after the game.

"It will be another tough one, but it's fine, the Champions League semi-final should be tough. We never expected it to be easy and this will not be easy. We played a good game at home, and we had better play a good game there as well.

"The Champions League semi-final is the second-most important game you can play [after the final]. That's why whatever happened in the last few weeks is not important.

"You never know if you will reach the semi-final again, if you will ever have another chance to go to the final, you never know. We have an exceptional team here, but nothing is taken for granted, you better treat it carefully and be ready, and we will be ready."

 

Liverpool have won on all five of their Champions League road trips this season. Should Klopp's side win in Spain, they would have played the most away games while maintaining a 100 per cent record by any team in a single European Cup/Champions League campaign.

With the Reds on a 13-match unbeaten streak on their travels in all competitions, Klopp highlighted the importance of having extra options available in his squad compared to previous seasons.

"In general, our last periods of the season are pretty intense, because the Premier League is so difficult," Klopp added.

"It helps that we know, historically we are in the best possible shape [physically], where we don't have to push the boys through like we did in 2018, where we arrived at the final [a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid] pretty much on three wheels, with players coming back from injury and these kinds of things.

"We have to make sure we can make changes here and there and keep them all in rhythm, and to win the football games, that's what it's about."

Tuesday will also see midfielder Thiago Alcantara return to Spain after an outstanding first-leg display in which he attempted over 100 passes, and Klopp said the in-form 31-year-old would start for any team in world football.

"When Thiago is in the shape he is in now, he would play in each team in the world, and he would perform for Spain as well," he added. "He had problems when he arrived here, he got injured, and Spain obviously has a lot of options in midfield because it's an incredibly talented football team.

"But in the shape he's in at the moment he would play for each national team, and not only play in it, he would probably be the outstanding performer. 

"Every person needs to be fit and to gain rhythm and then he can show his best football. If he's in the right place physically, he will show everyone how good he is."

Villarreal boss Unai Emery says his side are excited to pit themselves against "the best team in the world" in Liverpool, as they try to overcome a two-goal deficit in the Champions League semi-finals.

The Yellow Submarine enter Tuesday's decisive second leg against Jurgen Klopp's men 2-0 down after the first meeting at Anfield last Wednesday.

To reach the final in Paris, Villarreal must become only the second team to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit in a Champions League semi-final after Liverpool did so in 2018-19, losing 3-0 to Barcelona at Camp Nou before recording an incredible 4-0 home triumph.

But Villarreal struggled against Klopp's in-form Reds last week, attempting just one shot and failing to hit the target, and they could become the first team since 2003-04 (Deportivo La Coruna against FC Porto) to fail to record a shot on target across two legs of a Champions League semi-final tie.

Having previously described Klopp's outfit as the "best-ever" Liverpool team, Emery has now labelled them the finest side in world football, but insisted his players are relishing the prospect of competing with the Reds.

"We are very excited. The favourites were better at their stadium, but we managed to defend well," Emery said. 

"The team is psyched up to play our match and have our chances against the best team in the world. To live this moment, with all our people and against a rival, and passing this test would be excellent. I don't know if we'll be able to."

 

Emery is no stranger to thrilling Champions League comebacks, having been on the receiving end of one of the most famous turnarounds in history when his Paris Saint-Germain lost 6-1 at Barcelona after winning the first leg 4-0 in 2016-17's last-16.

However, the former Arsenal boss said a lot of things have changed since that classic contest, highlighting that neither team would benefit from the scrapped away goals rule on Tuesday.

"A lot of things change from the game against PSG against Barca, even things that are not in our hands. It does not favour [either team] that there is no longer the double value of away goals," he added.

"The first thing that changes is that we play at La Ceramica with our fans. We have to win, but we have to play a brutal defensive game and find our game from there."

In reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the second time in their history (the other in 2005-06), Villarreal have relied on a strong home record: Emery's men are unbeaten in seven home knockout games in the competition's history, although five of those ended level.

After Villarreal's 1-0 home win over Bayern Munich helped them dump the German champions out of the competition in the quarter-finals, defender Pau Torres says that success can serve as an inspiration for the hosts. 

"The game against Bayern can serve as an example. They were favourites and we managed to subdue them in our stadium," Torres said. "We are aware of what is at stake and what needs to be done. We have our game plan. We have seen a very strong Villarreal in important games.

"The objective is only one, no matter how it is achieved. We know that the game is long. A goal puts us in the tie.

"The coach has told us to be ourselves. We are preparing very well for the tie. We are going to be able to see a very recognisable Villarreal, with whom we all feel identified."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola asserted that his side's Premier League title destiny is in their hands, and they will need to remain consistent to ward off Liverpool.

City remain a point clear of Liverpool after both sides won their respective games against Leeds and Newcastle.

Guardiola's side took the lead via Rodri in the 13th minute at Elland Road before going on to win 4-0, moving to 83 points with four games remaining.

While the 51-year-old respects the gravity of the situation, he believes the equation is ultimately simple for City – keep winning, because Liverpool will push them.

"It's in our hands," Guardiola said post-match. “Wolves, Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa. We win (them all), we will be champions. We drop points, Liverpool will be champions.

“We know exactly what we need to do - win our games.

“Still it is a privilege and an honour to try win back-to-back titles and four Premier Leagues in five years.

“Right now it's not too much complicated, they are going to win their games.”

Despite the scoreline, City's win was not necessarily routine, eventually doubling the margin through Nathan Ake from a set piece.

Asked whether the characteristically boisterous atmosphere at Elland Road compared to those they face in Europe, Guardiola added he was impressed by how the relegation-threatened Leeds were supported.

It meant his side had to display character to eventually see the game out.

“I don’t want to compare or I’ll be in trouble," Guardiola joked. “Since I arrived in England, I heard about Elland Road - last year it was behind closed doors, today i experienced it and why it’s so special.

“Fighting to stay in the Premier League – singing, chanting and how the people get behind them. Leeds is one of greatest teams in England, and I have sympathy for the fans. I said today it would be hard.

“We stuck together and in the end it’s important to close that (goal difference) gap a little more.”

The Premier League witnessed drama at both ends of the table on an absorbing Saturday, as Manchester City and Liverpool continued to trade blows in the title race.

Jurgen Klopp's men downed in-form Newcastle United thanks to Naby Keita's first-half strike, before City responded by cruising to a 4-0 thrashing of Leeds United at Elland Road.

At the other end of the table, Norwich City were condemned to a record sixth Premier League relegation at Aston Villa, and Watford look destined to join them after Burnley continued their incredible upturn in form at Vicarage Road.

After another frantic day of action, Stats Perform looks at some of the key Opta facts from Saturday's contests.

Newcastle United 0-1 Liverpool: Keita continues Reds' run

Liverpool's bid for a remarkable quadruple faced a tough test when they travelled to Eddie Howe's in-form Newcastle in the first clash of the day.

However, Naby Keita's 19th-minute goal proved the difference in a competitive encounter, and was Liverpool's earliest winning goal in a 1-0 Premier League victory since December 2016, when Georginio Wijnaldum netted after eight minutes against Manchester City.

Klopp's side had chances to extend their lead, with home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka making nine saves, his highest tally in a single Premier League match. Since 2003-04, when Opta data began, the only Newcastle goalkeepers to make more saves in a Premier League game are Tim Krul (14 against Tottenham in November 2013) and Karl Darlow (11 against Tottenham in September 2020).

However, a 21st clean sheet of Liverpool's league campaign was enough to move them to the top of the table - only in 2005-06 (22) have the Reds kept more shutouts in a single Premier League campaign.

Liverpool have now picked up 40 points from the last 42 on offer in the competition, and the win turned up the pressure on City ahead of their trip to Leeds later on Saturday.

Leeds United 0-4 Manchester City: Visitors draw on set-peice prowess to reclaim top spot

The Reds were not top of the table for long, however, as City claimed a 4-0 win over relegation-threatened Leeds at Elland Road. Goals from Rodri and Nathan Ake both came from set pieces, meaning City have now scored 18 set-piece goals (excluding penalties) this season, their most in a Premier League campaign since 2013-14 (22).

Pep Guardiola's men have also kept five consecutive away league clean sheets, the best such sequence in the club's history.

After Gabriel Jesus had made the points safe, Fernandinho stuck a superb fourth goal late on, becoming the club's oldest ever Premier League goalscorer at 36 years and 361 days old, overtaking Frank Lampard in 2015 (36 years and 338 days old).

Leeds, meanwhile, are looking over their shoulders after another heavy defeat. They have conceded a remarkable 20 league goals against the two Manchester clubs this season (11 against City, nine against Manchester United) – a new top-flight record for goals conceded against the duo in a single season.

Watford 1-2 Burnley: Clarets' revival continues after Cork ends barren run

Elsewhere, Burnley continued their incredible revival by coming from behind to defeat Watford, making Mike Jackson the first Clarets boss to win three of his first four league games in charge since Jimmy Mullen won his first four in 1991.

After James Tarkowski's own-goal put Watford ahead, Jack Cork ended his run of 84 Premier League games without a goal with his first strike since December 2018 (against Liverpool), before Josh Brownhill scored a late winner.

The Clarets are now five points above the bottom three after winning three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since April 2019, having won just three of their previous 21 games.

Roy Hodgson's Watford, meanwhile, look destined for relegation after becoming the first side in English top-flight history to lose 11 consecutive home league matches.

Aston Villa 2-0 Norwich City: Canaries suffer another relegation at Villa Park

Burnley's win had other ramifications, contributing to Norwich suffering their sixth relegation from the Premier League – the most of any club in the competition's history – after the Canaries were beaten at Villa Park.

Remarkably, Norwich have been relegated in each of their last four Premier League seasons (2013-14, 2015-16, 2019-20 and 2021-22). They are only the second side in English league history to suffer relegation in four consecutive campaigns in the top-flight, after Crystal Palace (1992-93, 1994-95, 1997-98 and 2004-05).

 

Dean Smith's men saw their fate sealed after becoming the first team to concede 70 Premier League goals this season after just 34 games, representing the earliest point in any league campaign they have reached 70 concessions since 1956-57 (in their 34th game in the old Third Division South).

Ollie Watkins set the tone for Villa's win with his first-half strike, and he has now scored at least 11 more goals than any other Villa player since his September 2020 debut (25 goals in all competitions).

Pep Guardiola insisted he is enjoying the pressure that comes with Manchester City's bid for the Premier League and Champions League titles after his team thrashed Leeds United 4-0.

Rodri and Nathan Ake converted from set pieces to put City in control of their Premier League clash at Elland Road, as the visitors reached 18 set-piece goals in the league this season (excluding penalties) – the highest tally in the competition.

Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho added some gloss to the scoreline late on as City returned to the Premier League summit, having been overtaken by Liverpool after the Reds' 1-0 win over Newcastle United earlier on Saturday. 

City are now unbeaten in eight league games, while title rivals Liverpool have dropped just two points in their last 14 games in the competition, but Guardiola insisted he was relishing the pressure of the title race after securing an "incredible" victory.

"I prefer to feel the pressure than to not feel it! It means we have a chance to do it," he told Sky Sports. 

"It's a long season but now it's the last effort, we have a final in Madrid in four days and after, the last four games of the Premier League.

"Today was so important, you know, to make our chances to be champions alive again.

"We suffered a lot in the first half, but after the second goal we had control and we could have scored more goals. It's an incredible result for us, so important. 

"We defended well, sometimes set pieces are so important, with Nathan Ake on the pitch we are really strong. What a game [Aymeric] Laporte played. He played an incredible game. We have five games, potentially six [if City make the Champions League final], to end the season."

In completing their first league double over Leeds since 1981-82 – a season that saw the Yorkshire club relegated from the top flight – City recorded their fifth successive away clean sheet in the Premier League.

That sequence represents the longest such run in City's history, and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan said the team overcame a "huge test" in their quest for consecutive Premier League titles.

"Leeds started with a lot of intensity and made our lives difficult," Gundogan added. "Obviously the first goal helped us a lot, but still in the first half they were more than in the game.

"After the second we were able to move the ball better, quicker, and create more chances. At the end of the day, it was a very good result for us."

City and Liverpool have set a relentless pace in another absorbing race between the duo, and Gundogan echoed his manager's sentiments in claiming the players were enjoying the pressure that competition brings.

"It's only as tough as you make it, we are all competitors, and we need to be able to manage these kinds of situations," he said. "It's normal that sometimes they will play first and sometimes we're going to play first.

"But the pressure is always on, and the responsibility is always there to win all the games. It looks like both teams might not struggle until the end, that's what we want obviously, and every game is a final."

Jurgen Klopp is "very excited" about Liverpool's performances after the Reds earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Newcastle United.

Naby Keita's first-half goal saw Liverpool claim a vital win at St James' Park on Saturday, with the Reds maintaining their charge for the Premier League title having picked up 40 points from the last 42 available to them in the competition.

Having won the EFL Cup, reached the FA Cup final and beaten Villarreal 2-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals, Liverpool remain in the running for a historic quadruple going into the final weeks of the campaign.

While thrilled by Liverpool's recent displays, Klopp was not willing to discuss his side's hopes of winning four pieces of silverware as he highlighted the difficult nature of their schedule.

"I'm very excited, but not because of the prospect of winning something, because I never understood that," Klopp said at his post-match news conference.

"It's like, say we are five points ahead in the league, for example, and then you have four games to play and nearly all the time people ask you, 'now it's here... [are you] looking forward to...' No, no, no, you are just concerned about winning the next game.

"I am not smart enough to try two things at the same time. When we finished the game, our analyst was in the dressing room and I asked him how Villarreal is playing because they play now as well  they were 2-1 down, made a few changes line-up wise – so that's our life. 

"We are excited. I love this football team and we go into the next [game] and try to be as good as possible, but that's it.

"It’s a good situation, but for us the number of games we still have to play is a lot; with or without the Champions League final it's a lot, so we should better win everything because otherwise it could be tricky."

Liverpool have won 42 matches in all competitions this season – only three English top-flight clubs have ever won more in a single campaign: Everton (43 in 1984-85), Manchester City (44 in 2017-18, 47 in 2020-21, 50 in 2018-19) and Manchester United (44 in 2008-09).

The Reds have also kept 21 clean sheets in this season's Premier League – more than any other side – while only in 2005-06 (22) have they recorded more shutouts in a single Premier League campaign.

Despite Klopp making five changes to his starting line-up, the Reds produced another disciplined defensive display to remain in the hunt for their 20th English top-flight title, and Klopp was keen to praise midfielder James Milner for his contribution to a professional performance.

"He was outstanding. Millie is incredibly important for us," Klopp added. "That's very important, if you talk about the dressing room, he's very helpful there.

"But on the pitch as well, he played a super game. I don't want to take anything away from him, but I liked Naby's performance as well. The boys were on fire, we played football, we kept the ball in the right moments. 

"We struggled around the second-ball fights, but we knew before the game there's no way – that I know at least – to defend them 100 per cent. So, it was tricky, it's not cool to defend. But, apart from that I really loved the game. James was a massive part of it."

Liverpool travel to Villarreal on Tuesday as they look to secure a third Champions League final appearance since Klopp arrived at Anfield in 2015.

Jurgen Klopp hailed an "absolutely outstanding" display from a much-changed Liverpool side as they won 1-0 at Newcastle United to go top of the Premier League.

Naby Keita scored the only goal of the game at St James' Park to put the Reds two points clear of Manchester City, ahead of their trip to Leeds United later on Saturday.

Klopp made five changes to his starting line-up following a 2-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg win over Villarreal as Liverpool continue to challenge for an unprecedented quadruple.

Keita was among the players who came into the team and the midfielder was certainly not the only one who demonstrated the strength in depth Klopp has at his disposal.

That is 15 Premier League games without defeat for Liverpool and they have not conceded a goal in four matches in all competitions.

Klopp, who signed a contract extension this week, was delighted with the way a new-look team got the job done

The Reds boss told BT Sport: "Coming here, they have a team in form obviously and a crowd waiting for ages for proper success, now they have six home wins on the bounce. So coming here with changes and building pretty much a new set-up is massive.

"It's really difficult and so the performance is absolutely outstanding I have to say, I loved it. They controlled the game in so many ways.

"It's difficult, the only plan they had was long ball to our right side and from there they wanted to play on. We had some moments where we struggled, because it's difficult, but the rest we controlled."

The German added: "The impact we have from the bench in games is outstanding, but coming from the bench before a game pretty much before a game, we expect a lot but the boys have to deliver.

"It was outstanding. Joe Gomez, what a game. Naby Keita, what a game. James Milner, what a game. That's just mentioning three.

"Diogo Jota, oh my god what a game. Joel Matip of course and the other five had to go through again and you see Andy Robertson in minute 93 he put a 150 mile per hour sprint, that is just absolutely outstanding."

Jota was making his 50th Premier League appearance for Liverpool and provided the assist for Keita's winner.

Liverpool have won a club-record 42 games in all competitions this season. Everton (43 in 1984-85), City (44 in 2017-18, 47 in 2020-21, 50 in 2018-19) and Manchester United (44 in 2008-09) are the only English top-flight clubs to have bettered that tally.

Naby Keita scored the only goal as a much-changed Liverpool beat in-form Newcastle United 1-0 at St James' Park to climb above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp, who this week signed a contract extension to keep him at Anfield until 2026, had complained about the timing of this early kick-off and made five changes following Wednesday's 2-0 win over Villarreal in the Champions League.

Mohamed Salah, Thiago Alcantara and Trent Alexander-Arnold watched on from the bench as Keita – one of those recalled – drilled in a contentious goal with 19 minutes gone.

Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka kept his side in the game but Liverpool saw out the victory to move two points above City ahead of the reigning champions' trip to Leeds United.

Keita's winner came after he exchanged passes with Diogo Jota and rounded Dubravka, though Newcastle's players felt the goal should have been ruled out for a James Milner foul on Fabian Schar.

However, while Milner did catch his opponent, replays showed the Liverpool midfielder cleanly won the ball first and referee Andre Marriner was not instructed by VAR to review the goal.

Newcastle had a Miguel Almiron goal rightly disallowed for offside and otherwise struggled to create any openings, with Liverpool going close to a second before half-time when Jota's header was palmed over.

Jota was denied by Dubravka three times in the second half and Sadio Mane planted a shot wide from a good position in his final meaningful involvement before being replaced by Salah.

Newcastle had won four games in a row heading into this contest, though they only really tested Alisson through a Bruno Guimaraes drive as Liverpool picked up a 13th league victory in their past 14 outings.

Mohamed Salah, Thiago Alcantara and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all named among the substitutes for Liverpool's Premier League clash with Newcastle United on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp heavily rotated his side.

The Reds travelled to St James' Park in the early kick-off aiming to pick up the win that would see them overtake Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, albeit having played a game more.

Klopp has complained about the timing of the match, coming three days on from facing Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, with the return fixture to come on Tuesday.

The German coach made five changes to face Newcastle on the back of the 2-0 win over Villarreal, with Premier League top scorer Salah and fellow first-team regulars Thiago and Alexander-Arnold among those to drop out.

Fabinho and Ibrahima Konate were also named on the bench, with James Milner, Naby Keita, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Diogo Jota all recalled, the latter making his 50th league appearance for the Reds.

Divock Origi, who starred from the bench in last week's 2-0 win over Everton, was ruled out of the squad due to illness not related to COVID-19.

Newcastle, who had won four in a row heading into the Liverpool match, made three changes as Fabian Schar, Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron all came into the starting line-up.

Newcastle United XI: Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Bruno Guimaraes, Shelvey, Willock; Almiron, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin.
Subs: Dummett, Lascelles, Ritchie, Manquillo, Wood, Murphy, Darlow, Gayle, Longstaff.

Liverpool XI: Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keita; Mane, Diaz, Jota.
Subs: Kelleher, Fabinho, Konate, Thiago, Salah, Jones, Tsimikas, Alexander-Arnold, Elliott.

Arsenal cannot replicate the meteoric rise of Liverpool due to financial restraints and the Premier League becoming more competitive, says Mikel Arteta.

Jurgen Klopp signed a new deal to keep him at Anfield until 2026 on Thursday, signalling an intent to extend Liverpool's dominance that has them hunting an unprecedented quadruple.

Liverpool are profiting from a transformation in the club's fortunes, underpinned by astute signings and the development of players into world class stars.

The Gunners, meanwhile, are fighting for fourth in the Premier League – a competition they have not won since 2003-04 – with their last trophy being the 2019-20 FA Cup.

While manager Arteta respects the route Liverpool took to return to a force to be reckoned with, the Spaniard believes Arsenal must forge their own path.

"There are things you can try to compare, and you can acknowledge how other clubs have been through these processes and these phases of a project, like Liverpool," he told Sky Sports.

"But what the league was six years ago and what the league is today is completely different. Those leagues were won with 83, 84, 86 points. Now you need 95, 96 or 100 points to win the league.

"The context is completely different, so what was good three or five years ago is not good anymore, because the standards are so high.

"We need to focus on what we want to do and how we are going to execute it, and not look too far ahead."

Arsenal visit West Ham on Sunday as they look to build on their two-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham, who they face in the penultimate week of the season in what could decide Champions League qualification.

Once this season is complete, Arsenal face a crucial transfer window in order to become more competitive, with Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus reportedly a top target.

Arteta reiterated that Arsenal cannot duplicate the success of Liverpool's signings, given the club's financial restraints.

"I don't think we are in a position where we can do that, so we have to find other ways to do it," he added when asked in reference to Klopp signing both Alisson and Virgil van Dijk for record fees at the time.

"Liverpool, as well, have improved their players immensely, which is as important as bringing players in. And then, the ones that you buy, [it's important] that they can have an impact straight away.

"That's a big decision they have to make in recruitment, and then they are human beings as well. They have to adapt, and sometimes that's a tricky question to answer before they are actually here.

"We want to make the squad stronger, we want to make the starting XI stronger, we want to make the specificity and the personality of our players stronger, and that's what we are going to be seeking to do.

"It will depend on many factors. How many players are back from their loans, with the commitments we still have with them, our financial position in relation to where we finish; the clubs' demands when we want to buy players or sell players.

"There are a lot of question marks there, but this is football. We've been through a lot in the last two seasons and we are going to try to manage it in the best possible way.

"The good thing is that the plan is clear, but the plan is just the plan until you start to work through that plan. Then, every decision and every situation is going to allow you – or not allow you – to be as close as possible to that plan, which is our aim."

As the 2021-22 Premier League season enters its final weeks, plenty remains for the taking – not least the thrilling title race between Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City.

Both teams are in imperious form and, while City lead the way by a single point heading into the weekend, one slip might be all it takes.

Chelsea seem relatively secure in third place, but behind them the battle for the final Champions League spot is raging on. Just two points separate north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, who meet in a potentially decisive derby in mid-May. 

Manchester United have played two games more than those two sides and look like they will have to settle for sixth, assuming they can fend off West Ham.

At the bottom, Everton are in real danger of losing their Premier League status for the first time but will hold out hope in their dogfight against Burnley and Leeds United, though Watford and Norwich City appear destined for the drop.

But just how will it all unfold? Well, using the Stats Perform League Prediction Model, we can try and forecast the final standings.

Created by Stats Perform AI using Opta data, the model has analysed the division to assign percentages to potential outcomes for each club.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) based on teams' attacking and defensive qualities, which considers four years' worth of results, with weighting based on recency and the quality of opposition. The rest of the matches are then simulated 10,000 times to calculate the likelihood of each outcome.

Let's take a look...

PEP PIPS KLOPP TO THE POST... AGAIN

City won the Premier League title by a margin of just one point in the 2018-19 campaign. The gap has been much wider over the past two seasons, with Liverpool triumphing in 2020 and City winning last year.

But just like in 2019, the model suggests Liverpool will fall just short once again, with City predicted to stay on top. It gives Pep Guardiola's team a 66 per cent chance of winning their fourth title in five seasons, with the Reds given a 34 per cent chance.

Neither side are predicted to drop out of the top two – that seems a safe bet. Liverpool have a tough trip to in-form Newcastle United on Saturday, while City face Leeds United.

Newcastle will then have the chance to have another say in the title race when they visit City on May 8, with trips to Wolves and West Ham coming for the leaders before they round off their domestic season against Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa. 

Liverpool, who also face Villa along with Spurs, Southampton and Wolves, will be wanting a favour from their club great on the last day of the season if they are to prove the model wrong.

GUNNERS CLINCH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACE

Chelsea, according to the model, have a 98.7 chance of staying in third place, and are certain to be playing in UEFA's elite competition next season.

Below them, it is predicted that Arsenal will just nip into the top four rather than Spurs. Mikel Arteta's team have a 75.2 per cent chance of qualifying for the Champions League, and just 24.8 of finishing in a Europa League place.

While Stats Perform AI only gives Arsenal a minuscule opportunity of taking third off Chelsea, they have a 73.9 per cent chance of securing fourth place and featuring in the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17.

It seems likely that much will be decided on May 12, when Spurs welcome Arsenal to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Antonio Conte's team are predicted to finish fifth (72.4 per cent), and only have a 24.7 per cent likelihood of clinching fourth.

United are forecast to finish sixth (65 per cent), albeit there is the possibility they could even end 2021-22 in seventh. That position, however, seems set to be filled by West Ham, who have to win against Eintracht Frankfurt next week to keep their hopes of a Europa League triumph alive – success in that competition would take them into the Champions League, regardless of where they finish domestically.

TOFFEES CHAMPIONSHIP-BOUND

It has been a dismal season for Everton, who head into Sunday's clash with Frank Lampard's former club Chelsea sitting in the bottom three for the first time since 2019 (when, ironically, they beat a Chelsea side managed by Lampard).

Lampard has taken 10 points from his 12 games in charge, and they are now predicted to finish in 18th place. The model gives them a 29.8 per cent chance of escaping the drop and finishing 17th and just a 17.4 per cent likelihood of coming 16th. Their run-in includes three away games, and Everton have the worst away record in the competition – 12 of their 19 defeats coming on the road and they have taken just six points on their travels all season.

Burnley sit two points clear of Everton in 17th after two successive victories and are given a 39.4 per cent chance of staying put, although the likelihood of the Clarets' finishing 18th is not dissimilar (36.5 per cent).

Leeds have tough fixtures against City, Arsenal and Chelsea coming up before they host Brighton and Hove Albion and visit Brentford, though Stats Perform AI gives them only a 12.9 per cent chance of relegation.

Watford are heavily predicted to stay put in 19th too, with Norwich given a 67.4 per cent probability of finishing bottom – the model reckons they have a 0.1 per cent chance of avoiding the drop.

Pep Guardiola offered a solution as Jurgen Klopp bemoaned Liverpool's hectic schedule, suggesting that issue would disappear if he took up a job in the Maldives.

Manchester City are in action against Leeds United on Sunday after Liverpool have visited Newcastle United in Saturday's early kick-off.

The timing of that fixture has been the source of some frustration to Klopp, whose Reds side played in the Champions League against Villarreal on Wednesday.

But City manager Guardiola insisted it is a problem top coaches simply have to come to terms with, accepting they have little say in how the calendar is set.

The alternative, Guardiola suggested, would be leaving the Premier League for a quieter life beneath the coconut trees in "the Maldives league".

"Always I sympathise about the concerns of Liverpool," Guardiola said with a smile of Klopp's complaint.

"How many times have we discussed about what's happened to us and I've said I don't want to talk about that? Nothing is going to change.

"It's not going to change because the broadcasters are thinking about what they have to do to get more viewers. It's not about what the players need or what the teams need.

"Of course I understand it, but what can I say? We are not going to solve the problem, I've said many times. Sir Alex Ferguson was the most important icon in the history of English football and he was complaining when he was a teenager.

"Nothing is going to change, so don't ask me. With these questions, stop asking the managers. Go to the Premier League, the broadcasters, and ask the reason why. As a manager, we want the best for our players.

"We are focused on the players, concerned about the players and their recovery to make three or four competitions. Don't ask me again these questions because it wastes time. Nothing is going to change.

"We played in Madrid against Atletico, and three days later we played at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

"Chelsea played Tuesday and could have played on Saturday but played on Sunday. Do you think they think about that? No, because the next Tuesday, Liverpool play against United.

"Everyone has their own business to defend. We adapt. If they say play Saturday, we play Saturday. If they say play Tuesday, we play Tuesday. Thursday? We are going to play Thursday. Whatever they want, no problem.

"If I'm not satisfied, I go home and don't be manager of Man City. I go to another league in the Maldives, the Maldives league, and play one game a week and I'm so comfortable under the coconuts and it would be so perfect.

"But it's not the case. You are playing at 12.30pm, I'm sorry, Liverpool, but I'm not involved with that."

Steven Gerrard believes extending Jurgen Klopp's contract is Liverpool's "most important signing for many years to come".

Reds boss Klopp signed a two-year extension to his deal at Anfield on Thursday that will keep him tied to the club until 2026.

Gerrard, who is now manager of Aston Villa, played almost his entire career at Liverpool, making 710 appearances, scoring 186 goals and winning two FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League with his boyhood club.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Villa's Premier League match with Norwich City, Gerrard said Klopp's new deal was good news for all Liverpool fans.

"You can tell by the smile," he said when asked what he thought. "Listen, all the Liverpool fans worldwide are absolutely delighted with the news.

"Congratulations to Jurgen and his staff, and I think it'll be Liverpool's most important signing for many years to come. That's how highly we all think of him. [It is] terrific news for Liverpool Football Club."

 

Gerrard has inevitably been linked with an eventual move to manage his former club, having spent a brief spell in charge of Liverpool's under-18 side before moving to Rangers, where he won the club's first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years.

He became manager of Villa in November and has overseen 22 matches so far in all competitions, winning eight, drawing three and losing 11.

Liverpool are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple this season, having already won the EFL Cup. Klopp's men have an FA Cup final against Chelsea to come, are 2-0 ahead after the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Villarreal and sit just a point behind Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with five games remaining, with both scheduled to play Villa in the run-in.

"I think he certainly deserves it for the way he's performed," Gerrard continued. "I think the [Liverpool] fans have been craving that signing for some time, and he's built a world-class team, and I think they're on the cusp of something really special.

"We can have an influence in that, so that'll be interesting when [Liverpool] come to Villa Park. We wish them well outside of that fixture, and I think it's totally deserved and it's fantastic news for Liverpool Football Club. I think it's the most important signing for a very long time at the club."

Jurgen Klopp does not expect news of his new Liverpool contract to have any bearing on the futures of star duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

It was confirmed on Thursday Klopp had agreed a two-year extension to his deal at Anfield, meaning he has committed to Liverpool until 2026.

Egypt forward Salah is soon to enter the final 12 months of his deal and this month described the situation as "really sensitive".

Mane's is also out of contract in 2023 and reports have naturally suggested the focus for Liverpool is now on securing the futures of their best players have tied Klopp down for the foreseeable future.

But Klopp does not necessarily think there is a link between his own long-term plans and those of Salah and Mane.

"That's more a question for the boys to be honest, what it means to them," Klopp told a news conference ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Newcastle United.

"It's fine, my relationship with both is great. In life there are always more things to think about, not only the manger, the coaching staff. 

"We don't know exactly, there's no 100 per cent in this business but it's pretty likely I'll stay for a while. I think everything is clear in this moment.

"If it's a positive sign for the boys then great. I don't think that will be the one decisive thing. 

"They have to make their own decisions in life, it's good. We just have to make sure everyone who wants to be here can know what to expect."

Klopp had previously suggested his old deal, which would have ended in 2024, would be his last at Liverpool.

Asked to explain what changed, he replied: "The main reason for it, I signed the last contract I thought it would be like this [his last deal].

"An idea, a plan would have been [to stay] a long time, [it would have been] eight years in 2024. I thought that will be it

"You [the media] ask me things and I give an answer, what I said I thought it would be it to be honest. I didn't think about it anymore to be honest that's the truth. 

"You ask from time to time, the plan didn't change yet. The plan changed, that's all."

Klopp believes the timing of the news can offer stability to Liverpool, not only now but for further down the line when he eventually does depart the club.

"We want to try and make this club successful for as long as possible, if not forever. That doesn't mean I will be here forever of course," he said.

"It is done early. And it's good for transfer windows. We cannot guarantee success, but we can guarantee stability which in difficult times is a big thing to guarantee.

"For me, at this moment in time, this is the place to be. This club offers a lot, we are building a stand again and it's a sign we never want to stop developing.

"This is no threat, but this is only the start. We really go for it now.

"We can't wait 10 years to make memories. We have to do it now. We have to enjoy the journey. We don't know if we will win anything. But at the moment, we try to squeeze everything out of this season that is possible."

"The last two years were really hard because corona dominated our lives, we thought it was over then 'the other guy' [Vladimir Putin – a reference to Russia's invasion of Ukraine] put us in trouble. So, we have to cherish these moments."

Mohamed Salah has been named the men's Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers' Association.

The Egyptian wins the award for the second time in his career after enjoying another fruitful campaign with Liverpool.

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr won the women's award, which for the first time was voted for by the full FWA membership, having previously been decided by a panel of experts.

Salah received 48 per cent of the voting, finishing ahead of Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and West Ham's Declan Rice.

The Liverpool attacker has 44 goal involvements in 44 appearances this season in all competitions (30 goals, 14 assists) as he and his team-mates continue to hunt down what would be an unprecedented quadruple.

Kerr received 40 per cent of votes to beat Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema and Man City's Lauren Hemp, who finished second and third.

The Australian has scored a goal a game in the Women's Super League this season, bagging 18 in 18 for the league leaders, with a further four assists.

Chair of the FWA, Carrie Brown, told the FWA website: "Both Mo and Sam have been outstanding this season, breaking records for both club and country. As well as their performances on the pitch, they are leaders and standard bearers of excellence at their clubs and respective leagues.

"The fact they have won by such convincing margins underlines just how impressive they have been this season which has been recognised by our members."

Both Salah and Kerr will be presented with their awards at a Footballer of the Year dinner on May 5.

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