Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp saw Manchester United throw a spanner in the works of their bid to equal their arch-rivals’ record of 20 league titles, but he does not expect Erik ten Hag’s side to do them any favours when Arsenal come calling.

Klopp said he was “absolutely fine” with their situation after two dropped points in the title race after the 2-2 draw kept Arsenal top of the table on goal difference.

The Gunners are due at Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend of the season, but the Liverpool boss does not hold out much hope of a helping hand.

“Probably if we are still around then it would be great but Arsenal is a good football team and if they (United) play like they did today Arsenal will win that game, I’m 100 per cent sure,” said Klopp, whose side took just two points off United this season.

“I’m really sorry to say it, but we should have won both games and didn’t. That’s our fault.”

Mohamed Salah rescued a point with an 84th-minute penalty after the visitors failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance which brought only Luis Diaz’s opener.

A mistake by young centre-back Jarell Quansah allowed Bruno Fernandes to equalise with a lob over goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher from the centre-circle before Kobbie Mainoo put the home side ahead.

“The feelings are obviously mixed. I’m happy with a lot of parts of the game, being 1-0 up at Old Trafford and having a 15-0 shooting stat (in the first half) is incredible. We should and could have been calmer and clearer in moments,” added Klopp, who was left to rue failing to capitalise on their first-half dominance.

“It (league position) matters after 38 matchdays. People and our supporters as well will tell us now we need to better our goal difference and go for that – that would be the dumbest thing we could do.

“We are who we are and we are how we are and that’s why we are in the race. I’m absolutely fine with that.

“We are fine with our situation. I wish we had more points, but I’m absolutely fine and over the moon actually that these boys brought us into that situation.

“The same boys who missed today a few chances are the boys who brought us 71 points.”

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was equally happy with how his side responded after being outplayed for large parts of the game.

“First half we lost the duels and our decision-making in the half spaces, we weren’t quick enough,” he said.

“We encouraged the team at half-time to win those duels. We didn’t take advantage in the first half and the second half we did.

“We needed a moment in the game to punish a mistake of Liverpool, but that got us back in the game.

“It (their second goal) was a very good team goal, a goal from out of the game plan, so I’m very proud the team could transfer this in the way we did to get the ball to the far-side half-space and then switch and then that finish was brilliant.”

Ten Hag also had praise for 19-year-old centre-back Willy Kambwala on only his second Premier League start.

“The decision? Old soldiers die and new have to come in. Already a long time he has been training with us and his progress is amazing during training, we didn’t have any doubt,” he added.

“We were convinced he could do the job, I’m very pleased he could do the performance. It’s another signal and message for Manchester United has high potential.

“If you have more players available, especially in the backline where we have had 27 combinations over the course of the season, the future will be very good.”

However, Ten Hag was not happy his side capitulated late on for the third successive game.

“It’s very disappointing when you put yourselves three times in the week in a winning position just before the end of the game, but then drop points,” he said.

“We have all seen some poor decisions. All three games had poor decisions and not every time the same players.

“We have to improve. The sooner the better.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp saw Manchester United throw a spanner in the works of their bid to equal their arch-rivals’ record of 20 league titles but he does not expect Erik ten Hag’s side to do them any favours when Arsenal come calling.

Klopp said he was “absolutely fine” with their situation after two dropped points in the title race after the 2-2 draw kept Arsenal top of the table on goal difference.

The Gunners are due at Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend of the season, but the Liverpool boss does not hold out much hope of a helping hand.

“Probably if we are still around then it would be great but Arsenal is a good football team and if they (United) play like they did today Arsenal will win that game, I’m 100 per cent sure,” said Klopp, whose side took just two points off United this season.

“I’m really sorry to say it, but we should have won both games and didn’t. That’s our fault.”

Mohamed Salah rescued a point with an 84th-minute penalty after the visitors failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance which brought only Luis Diaz’s opener.

A mistake by young centre-back Jarell Quansah allowed Bruno Fernandes to equalise with a lob over goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher from the centre-circle before Kobbie Mainoo put the home side ahead.

“The feelings are obviously mixed. I’m happy with a lot of parts of the game, being 1-0 up at Old Trafford and having a 15-0 shooting stat (in the first half) is incredible. We should and could have been calmer and clearer in moments,” added Klopp, who was left to rue failing to capitalise on their first-half dominance.

“It (league position) matters after 38 matchdays. People and our supporters as well will tell us now we need to better our goal difference and go for that – that would be the dumbest thing we could do.

“We are who we are and we are how we are and that’s why we are in the race. I’m absolutely fine with that.

“We are fine with our situation. I wish we had more points, but I’m absolutely fine and over the moon actually that these boys brought us into that situation.

“The same boys who missed today a few chances are the boys who brought us 71 points.”

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was equally happy with how his side responded after being outplayed for large parts of the game.

“First half we lost the duels and our decision-making in the half spaces, we weren’t quick enough,” he said.

“We encouraged the team at half-time to win those duels. We didn’t take advantage in the first half and the second half we did.

“We needed a moment in the game to punish a mistake of Liverpool, but that got us back in the game.

“It (their second goal) was a very good team goal, a goal from out of the game plan, so I’m very proud the team could transfer this in the way we did to get the ball to the far-side half-space and then switch and then that finish was brilliant.”

Ten Hag also had praise for 19-year-old centre-back Willy Kambwala on only his second Premier League start.

“The decision? Old soldiers die and new have to come in. Already a long time he has been training with us and his progress is amazing during training, we didn’t have any doubt,” he added.

“We were convinced he could do the job, I’m very pleased he could do the performance. It’s another signal and message for Manchester United has high potential.

“If you have more players available, especially in the backline where we have had 27 combinations over the course of the season, the future will be very good.”

However, Ten Hag was not happy his side capitulated late on for the third successive game.

“It’s very disappointing when you put yourselves three times in the week in a winning position just before the end of the game, but then drop points,” he said.

“We have all seen some poor decisions. All three games had poor decisions and not every time the same players.

“We have to improve. The sooner the better.”

Manchester United dented bitter rivals Liverpool’s title hopes as Mohamed Salah’s late spot-kick salvaged a 2-2 draw in Jurgen Klopp’s final trip to Old Trafford.

Three weeks on from Erik ten Hag’s men edging an FA Cup classic at the end of extra-time, this age-old rivalry resumed in a similarly chaotic clash in the Premier League on Sunday.

Luis Diaz put dominant Liverpool into a deserved half-time lead against stumbling United, only for Bruno Fernandes’s 45-yard jaw dropper and a magnificent Kobbie Mainoo effort to turn the match on its head.

Salah levelled with a late penalty after Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought down Harvey Elliott, but the Reds could not eke out a winner as Ten Hag’s men successfully put a spanner in their old foes’ title charge.

It was the 27th point Klopp’s comeback kings have won from a losing position but may not be enough, putting them level with leaders Arsenal on 71 points but substantially behind on goal difference.

Liverpool will be praying a costly Old Trafford draw does not go onto cost them the title like it did five years ago.

Erik ten Hag has urged his Manchester United players to “bring big games over the line” ahead of their Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.

United have dropped five points from winning positions in their last two games, with the most recent missed opportunity coming against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Cole Palmer scored twice deep in second half added-time as the Blues stole all three points in a dramatic 4-3 victory over ten Hag’s outfit.

Mason Mount thought he had found the winner with his strike in the sixth minute of stoppage time against Brentford, but Kristoffer Ajer equalised three minutes later in a 1-1 draw last Saturday at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Ten Hag admitted his side need to start getting over the line when leading games, seeking inspiration from previous victories over the league’s best.

“We can play to a very high standard. We can compete with the best and beat the best in the Premier League and when you can do that, you can also do it across Europe,” he said.

“We need to learn how to bring big games over the line, Saturday was an example.

“We have to step up, make better decisions individually and as a team.”

Thursday’s defeat in west London ended an unbeaten Premier League run against Chelsea which started in 2017.

Ten Hag wants his players to use the defeat as fuel going into their clash against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

He added: “We will see on Sunday (how to beat Liverpool).

“But I have to say first I have to deal with this, but we can’t deal with this long. We have to recover very quick. We have to turn this around.

“We will be in a positive mood. We will be looking forward. We have to take energy but we will be mad, angry. From anger you can take a lot of energy and that is how we have to do it.”

Marcus Rashford came off the bench at Stamford Bridge, but failed to have an impact on the night.

Ten Hag revealed the forward is as motivated as ever to help the team.

He said: “I think lately his form is progressing and so the time will always be right. I think he has a big motivation because he wants to be successful with us.

“He wants to score goals, but he wants to win trophies and contribute and we still have a chance in the FA Cup.

“He wants to fight for a Champions League spot and the Euros are coming so I will say his motivation should be high.

“And the form, that is a moment and he can change the momentum always. Before Brentford, he scored three goals in three games.”

Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo believes their strength in depth is bolstering the club’s Premier League title bid.

The Netherlands international came off the bench for the 19th time in 44 appearances to score his 14th goal in Thursday’s victory over Sheffield United.

This season Jurgen Klopp’s substitutes have been involved in 24 Premier League goals (12 goals, 12 assists) which equals Manchester City’s record from 2011-12, with Gakpo combining with fellow substitute Andy Robertson for the third goal against the Blades.

It has also contributed to Liverpool winning 26 points from losing positions and Gakpo, the team’s third-highest scorer this season, attributes that to the attitude within the squad.

“That’s what this team is all about. We have so much quality, and the manager can only start 11,” he told the club’s website.

“Everybody is eager to perform well for himself, for the team and for the fans when they are coming on.

“At the beginning of the season everyone had the belief that, ‘OK, I’m not starting today but when I come on, you never know what is going to happen, and if I put all of my energy out there then beautiful things can happen’.”

With just eight league matches remaining the focus is getting sharper with every week but Gakpo said no-one was thinking ahead as that leads to scrambled thinking.

“Obviously we are aware of the situation but we just try to approach every game and stay calm,” he added.

“Obviously your mind can go all over the place if you are thinking about the end of the season, but we just have to take it game by game.

“We are doing it pretty well at the moment and we just need to stay calm and stay focused.”

The team return to Old Trafford on Sunday, where only three weeks ago they lost a pulsating FA Cup quarter-final 4-3 after Manchester United scored a winner in the final minute of extra time.

It was only the third domestic defeat of the campaign but losing to their arch-rivals, ending the hope of an unprecedented quadruple, was painful.

“Of course, we were very disappointed. Losing is never good. Especially the way we lost that day, it hurt for 24 hours after the game,” said Gakpo’s international captain Virgil van Dijk.

“We have to do better against them. They started the game well, had the crowd behind them and that gave them a push. Conceding the goals was disappointing.

 

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“We controlled the game but kept them alive. They made use of it in the best way possible. That’s credit to them but we are going there on Sunday to turn it around and make sure we get the three points.

“We want to win every game and that’s the focus anyway at Liverpool. We know how much this match means and how big it is for the outside world but we are in a phase where we can’t drop points and lose points.

“It never matters what happened the game before results-wise. It is on its own. We have one goal: go there and try to win the game, we will give everything.”

Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool and Manchester United fans to “show a bit of class” during Sunday’s game at Old Trafford.

Last month’s FA Cup meeting was marred by incidents of tragedy chanting about the Hillsborough disaster, resulting in arrests, and additional work has been done by both clubs on the subject in the intervening weeks.

“It is super-important. I don’t hear it, honestly, when I am on the sideline. I heard after the game that it happened and it obviously is not great,” said Klopp.

“But in general it is just helpful that we educate our kids in specific things: respect, understanding, all these things.

“I just see two of the biggest clubs in the world, so let’s just show a bit of class in these moments, don’t sing this or sing that.

“Just show class, let the teams fight on the pitch, let’s play football, that is all fine. Besides that, just show a bit of class, that would be my wish for all of us.”

Klopp heads to Old Trafford knowing not only do his side have to rectify the mistakes of last month’s FA Cup defeat but avoid a similar slip-up which ultimately cost them the title five years ago.

In the first of their epic run-ins with Manchester City the Reds won 10 of their last 12 matches but draws at Manchester United and Everton saw them finish second by a point with a record runners-up points tally of 97.

Klopp has won just twice and drawn four in 10 visits to their historical arch-rivals but that has to change on his final, short trip down the M62 if they are to maintain their advantage at the top of the table.

Three weeks ago their bid for an unprecedented quadruple was ended by a goal in the final minute of extra time and it is their only defeat in the last dozen matches.

“We were really good that day but we didn’t finish the situations off,” was Klopp’s assessment as his side looked like they were running on empty in the additional 30 minutes.

“Extra time was too much for us and we couldn’t avoid the mistakes we could before (in normal time).

“It was the day we couldn’t control it any more, United turned the game around and United is a top side playing at home but we have to do what we did from minute 15 to 70-something.

“Football is not that easy. We have to find a way to cause United problems. They will try the same.

“Against this opponent, in this stadium, we better play a really good game if we want something from it.”

Liverpool have announced a two percent rise in season ticket prices for the second successive year, having frozen the cost for the six campaigns previously. Junior tickets, however, will remain the same for a 10th successive season.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp heads to Old Trafford knowing not only do his side have to rectify the mistakes of last month’s FA Cup defeat but also avoid the sort of slip-up which ultimately cost them the title five years ago.

In the first of their epic Premier League run-ins with Manchester City, the Reds won 10 of their last 12 matches but draws at Manchester United and Everton saw them finish second by a point with a record runners-up tally of 97.

Klopp has won just twice and drawn four in 10 visits to their arch-rivals but that has to change on his final, short trip down the M62 if they are to maintain their advantage at the top of the table.

Three weeks ago their bid for an unprecedented quadruple was ended by a goal in the final minute of extra time and it is their only defeat in the last dozen matches.

“We were really good that day but we didn’t finish the situations off,” was Klopp’s assessment as his side looked like they were running on empty in the additional 30 minutes.

“Extra-time was too much for us and we couldn’t avoid the mistakes we could before (in normal time).

“It was the day we couldn’t control it any more, United turned the game around and United is a top side playing at home but we have to do is what we did from minute 15 to 70-something.

“Football is not that easy. We have to find a way to cause United problems. They will try the same.

“Against this opponent, in this stadium, we better play a really good game if we want something from it.”

Last month’s game was marred by incidents of tragedy chanting about the Hillsborough disaster, resulting in some arrests, and additional work has been done by both clubs on the subject in the intervening weeks.

“I think it is super-important. I don’t hear it, honestly, when I am on the sideline but I get told it happens and that is obviously not great,” added Klopp.

“But in general it is just helpful that we educate our kids in specific things: respect, understanding, all these kinds of things.”

Liverpool have announced a two percent rise in season ticket prices for the second successive year, having frozen the cost for the six campaigns previously. Junior tickets, however, will remain the same for a 10th successive season.

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk hopes the composure he displays on and off the pitch can help get his team over the line in the title race.

The Netherlands centre-back’s coolness under pressure is one of his trademarks but since taking over the captaincy from Jordan Henderson in the summer he has tried to instil that across the squad.

Results so far suggest it is working as they head into the final eight matches of the season with a two-point lead at the top of the table following their 3-1 win over Sheffield United.

“The calmness I want in life personally – trying not to stress about the small things that shouldn’t have an influence on your state of mind – is something I try to implement in the group,” the 32-year-old, speaking at the launch of this year’s McDonald’s Fun Football programme which provides half a million children the chance to play football for free in 2024, told the PA news agency.

“Try to focus on where we have influence and that is our performances. I know I have a big role.

“I’m quite vocal but it’s more I’d rather have a good atmosphere outside the pitch, I want everyone to feel comfortable and feel happy and express themselves in the best way possible because then you can get the best out of everyone.

“That standard has been set over the last few years with our previous captain, who was outstanding, but obviously I do it my own way.

“The responsibility I have to the club goes around the world and I won’t take that for granted because it’s a special situation for myself to be captain of Liverpool.”

But Van Dijk’s calmness should not be mistaken for being laid back.

Behind the ease with which he often patrols the pitch is a winning mentality honed in childhood means any defeat still feels “horrible”.

As a youngster he would get angry if he lost so much as a tackle and he has channelled that to propel him to become one of the best defenders in the world.

Questions were asked about whether he would regain his best form following ACL surgery in 2020 and those intensified during the team’s struggles last season on their way to a fifth-placed finish but displays in the current campaign have proved the doubters wrong.

As he prepares to return to Old Trafford three weeks after an FA Cup exit to Manchester United, Van Dijk said the drive to win remains as strong as ever even if setbacks like last month remain painful.

“Horrible,” said the 32-year-old of how defeats feel. “It didn’t happen too many times this year but, still, I’m a winner.

“Even when I was the age of these kids if I lost a challenge or a game I could definitely be angry about it – but that is also something good.

“You need to make sure have that mentality and it is needed to get to the top and stay at the top.”

Having lifted his first trophy as Liverpool captain, Van Dijk will have a major role to play in the bid to add the Premier League and Europa League to February’s Carabao Cup win.

“It’s getting exciting. If you thought about a year ago, in a bit of transition, and where we are right now and what we have achieved so far this season everyone would have taken it with both hands,” he added.

“Two months left: there will be moments of nervousness, there will be games where we are struggling but it is about never giving up and enjoying every moment of it.

“Every team in the league would love to be in the position we are and that’s something you have to remind yourself.

“These are the times you want to be a football player: to win that (Premier League) again would be absolutely unbelievable, especially after the season we had last year.

“We have a big one at the weekend, then the chaos starts again with those games coming thick and fast.”

:: Virgil van Dijk was celebrating the launch of this year’s McDonald’s Fun Football programme, available to all children aged 5-11 across the UK. Sign up now for your nearest FREE session at mcdonalds.co.uk/football.

What the papers say

Manchester United and Liverpool have both declared their interest in Dutch forward Joshua Zirkzee, but the 22-year-old has reportedly told his manager that he would prefer a move to Italian club AC Milan, the Mirror reports. Zirkzee has scored 10 goals and produced three assists in 28 games for Bologna in Serie A this season.

Manchester United are also interested in 26-year-old Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa to help bolster their defence, according to Football Transfers. Konsa has played 28 Premier League games for Villa this season.

Fulham manager Marco Silva has attracted some interest from West Ham, who has a release clause in his contract of £8.6million, the Sun says.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Federico Valverde: Liverpool are hoping to sign Real Madrid’s Uruguayan 25-year-old midfielder who is worth around £150million, according to TeamTalk.

Mikayil Faye: Arsenal are looking to match Manchester United’s bid for the 19-year-old Barcelona centre-back, Calciomercato reports.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Alexis Mac Allister’s “wonder goal” for turning around their fortunes in the 3-1 win over Sheffield United.

After Conor Bradley’s own goal early in the second half cancelled out Darwin Nunez’s 17th-minute opener – courtesy of an error by Blades goalkeeper Ivo Grbic – the tension at Anfield increased as a return to the top of the Premier League came into doubt.

However, Mac Allister, Liverpool’s best player over the last month, smashed home a brilliant strike reminiscent of Steven Gerrard’s winner against Olympiacos in 2004 to ease the nerves and Cody Gakpo added a late third.

“We needed Macca’s wonder goal to turn it around,” said Klopp on the Argentina international, who is the first Reds midfielder to score or assist a goal in six consecutive appearances in all competitions since Gerrard in January 2013.

“The third goal was like it should have been before. This kind of moment, Robbo (Andy Robertson) at full speed, wonderful cross, sensational header.”

Mac Allister started the game back as the defensive midfielder, a role he performed for most of the first half of the season, as Wataru Endo was rested, but moved further forward in the second half.

Klopp has fielded questions about the World Cup winner’s best position throughout the campaign but admits he is better in a more advanced position.

“I understand 100 percent that (question) is coming but he played a good game already, it is not him in the wrong position,” added the Reds boss.

“You can play that with a footballing six but all the movements around were not as they should be. You talk is he better as an eight or a six – his defensive part is really good but people were doubting can he be this kind of defensive player.

“I prefer him in an eight but we are not playing in dreamland, we had a problem in the position and it worked out.

“We changed (in the game) and then changed back to a double-six. I don’t know if he scored in the double six but the impact he can have is massive.”

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admits once they had squandered a couple of good early chances the Premier League’s bottom side were always up against it but did not think it would have made that much difference.

“I am not sure scoring early against Liverpool is the greatest of ideas,” he said.

“We knew we would have to give up the ball and be structured and organised and connected. We knew we would have to suffer, stay in the game, take the game deep.

“We were against the best press in the division and hopefully ride your luck and things fall for you, hopefully it becomes the night you get something.

“Yet again Liverpool are finding goals late on. From our point of view it is quite a difficult thing to take.

“You want the players to give everything they have got but physically the gap, it hurts, it cost us tonight.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Alexis Mac Allister’s “wonder goal” for turning around their fortunes in the 3-1 win over Sheffield United.

After Conor Bradley’s own goal early in the second half cancelled out Darwin Nunez’s 17th-minute opener – courtesy of an error by Blades goalkeeper Ivo Grbic – the tension at Anfield increased as a return to the top of the Premier League came into doubt.

However, Mac Allister, Liverpool’s best player over the last month, smashed home a brilliant strike reminiscent of Steven Gerrard’s winner against Olympiacos in 2004 to ease the nerves and Cody Gakpo added a late third.

“We needed Macca’s wonder goal to turn it around,” said Klopp on the Argentina international, who is the first Reds midfielder to score or assist a goal in six consecutive appearances in all competitions since Gerrard in January 2013.

“The third goal was like it should have been before. This kind of moment, Robbo (Andy Robertson) at full speed, wonderful cross, sensational header.”

Mac Allister started the game back as the defensive midfielder, a role he performed for most of the first half of the season, as Wataru Endo was rested, but moved further forward in the second half.

Klopp has fielded questions about the World Cup winner’s best position throughout the campaign but admits he is better in a more advanced position.

“I understand 100 percent that (question) is coming but he played a good game already, it is not him in the wrong position,” added the Reds boss.

“You can play that with a footballing six but all the movements around were not as they should be. You talk is he better as an eight or a six – his defensive part is really good but people were doubting can he be this kind of defensive player.

“I prefer him in an eight but we are not playing in dreamland, We had a problem in the position and it worked out.

“We changed (in the game) and then changed back to a double-six. I don’t know if he scored in the double six but the impact he can have is massive.”

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admits once they had squandered a couple of good early chances the Premier League’s bottom side were always up against it but did not think it would have made that much difference.

“I am not sure scoring early against Liverpool is the greatest of ideas,” he said.

“We knew we would have to give up the ball and be structured and organised and connected. We knew we would have to suffer, stay in the game, take the game deep.

“We were against the best press in the division and hopefully ride your luck and things fall for you, hopefully it becomes the night you get something.

“Yet again Liverpool are finding goals late on. From our point of view it is quite a difficult thing to take.

“You want the players to give everything they have got but physically the gap, it hurts, it cost us tonight.”

Midfielder Alexis Mac Allister scored the crucial goal which helped return Liverpool to the top of the Premier League and ease any nerves about an early wobble in the title run-in.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were by far the better team against Sheffield United but had to sweat for their 3-1 victory, with a top-class strike from the Argentinian with 14 minutes to go giving them control.

The World Cup winner has become a hugely-influential player in the last few weeks playing in a more advanced position – although he started this game as the holding midfielder before moving forward – and his goal had echoes of Steven Gerrard against Olympiacos in 2005.

Whether it proves to be as significant as the one which paved the way for their Champions League win will only be discovered over the next eight games but in the short term it took Liverpool two points clear of Arsenal and three ahead of Manchester City.

With games running out every victory leaves even less margin for error for their rivals, which was why Mac Allister’s goal, an unstoppable strike into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area, was so important after the chasers had both won on Wednesday.

Darwin Nunez’s 18th of the season – courtesy of a mistake from goalkeeper Ivo Grbic – had given the hosts a 17th-minute lead, only for Conor Bradley’s own goal just after half-time to ratchet up the tension.

The classy Mac Allister, one of the most composed players on the pitch, relieved that and substitute Cody Gakpo’s late effort was an added boost to the goal difference which could yet be crucial.

United have conceded 80 goals this season – more than any other top-flight team, with 14 of those coming in the last four outings.

Their first half was indicative of why they are bottom of the league and destined for a swift return to the Championship as a failure to take gilt-edged chances and an inability to avoid mistakes proved costly.

Sunday’s visitors Brighton scored after 90 seconds but the Blades could have even beaten that when former Liverpool academy graduate Jack Robinson’s long throw was flicked on to James James McAtee at the far post but he shot straight at Caoimhin Kelleher from just a few yards.

Ben Brereton-Diaz then flicked the resulting corner wide and while taking either of those chances may not have been enough for the leakiest side in the top flight it would have at least given them something to cling on to.

Instead they shot themselves in the foot as, after Mohamed Salah had a chip tipped over by Grbic, the United goalkeeper was culpable for the opening goal.

The Croatian dithered too long in clearing a backpass and that was all the invitation Nunez needed to charge him down, with the clearance rebounding off him into an unguarded net.

Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Luis Diaz all had attempts, while Ryan Gravenberch showed his lack of recent game time in shooting weakly at Grbic instead of playing in Nunez.

Deep into additional time Jayden Bogle forced Kelleher into a save low down by his left-hand post and it seemed a brief respite until Gus Hamer outjumped Bradley with his header deflecting off the defender and through the legs of Kelleher in the 58th minute.

Andy Robertson and Harvey Elliott, on his 21st birthday, were already stripped to come on before the goal but the departure of leading scorer Mohamed Salah was a surprise, even more so to the Egyptian who did not make eye contact with Klopp as he departed.

However, the tactical adjustment, also made with one eye on Sunday’s trip to Manchester United, worked as the hosts began to find more room down the sides as Virgil van Dijk had a header palmed wide and Bradley volleyed Elliott’s deep cross into the side-netting.

But it was another botched clearance, this time by Anel Ahmedhodzic, which created the winner as the defender’s attempt to hoist the ball clear of his own penalty area deflected off Diaz to fall invitingly for Mac Allister to rifle home his fourth in five games.

Mac Allister the hit the crossbar with a free-kick before Gakpo finished things off in additional time.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp does not care that his side are now considered favourites to win the Premier League.

Sunday’s win over Brighton, combined with Manchester City and Arsenal’s goalless draw, elevated the Reds back to the top of the table with nine matches to go.

But Klopp is well aware, with a round of midweek fixtures followed closely by games at the weekend, the situation can change in an instant.

“It is nothing we are obviously aware of. The situation is, for us, Sheffield United, and not who is the favourite,” he said ahead of Thursday’s home game against the rock-bottom Blades.

“I am pretty sure when we lost at Arsenal (on February 4) we were not favourites after that – maybe rightly so – but I don’t know and I don’t care.

“One of the most important things to get through this period is to ignore the outside ‘mess’ as it goes up and down and is emotional.

“We have to be professional – be emotional but in the right way – and be the best version of ourselves, play the best football we can play and then let’s see what the outcome is.

“There are no guarantees, there are just opportunities. The clearer the opportunity, the more likely you can take it.”

Liverpool are the last of the title chasers to play, with City and Arsenal’s matches on Wednesday, but Klopp will not be tuning in to see how their rivals get on.

“I didn’t even know they played (on Wednesday night),” he added. “I expect them always to win.

“I told you one story, years ago, I watched a game and wanted Leicester to win (against Manchester City in 2019) and it didn’t happen.

“That was the last time that I did that. That’s when you learn from the past. When they play, my heart-rate doesn’t go up.

“We need to get our points in, win our football games.”

If Liverpool are favourites for the title they are even shorter odds to dispatch a Blades side which have conceded 77 goals in 29 matches and have a goal difference of minus 50 after managing just three wins, just one away from home, all season.

It looks like an easy task against a team who have not kept a clean sheet in four months, with Sunday’s visit to Old Trafford – where only three weeks ago Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup – the bigger hurdle.

However, Klopp will not be taking the visitors lightly.

“If I would think now about Manchester United, our people (fans) would have a right to think I am already too long in the chair,” he said.

“It makes no sense. You cannot win football games not respecting the opponent. I have no chance of influencing the Manchester United game at the moment. We will play players who are available.

“We want to use them, for example Curtis (Jones) is back but it doesn’t mean he can play 90 minutes. Other players might need rhythm because we need them. How can we do that?

“It has nothing to do with the Manchester United game, Sheffield United deserve our full respect and they will get it.”

Left-back Andy Robertson is also available after missing Sunday with an injury sustained on Scotland duty.

What the papers say

Jadon Sancho may yet make another appearance at Old Trafford, with the Manchester Evening News reporting Manchester United appointing Southampton’s Jason Wilcox as their director of football would clear the way for the return of the 24-year-old, who is currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund. The pair worked together at Manchester City’s academy.

The Daily Mail says Barcelona’s Mikayil Faye is on Manchester United’s wishlist for defensive reinforcements in the summer. As well as the Senegal international, 19, United are keen on Jarrad Branthwaite, 21, at Everton and 18-year-old Aaron Anselmino at Boca Juniors.

Barcelona are said to be eyeing a deal for Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim as a replacement for the departing Xavi. According to The Independent, club bosses have considered themselves frontrunners for Amorim, but Xabi Alonso’s decision to remain at Bayer Leverkusen for one more season has opened a window for potential rivals for the 39-year-old’s signature.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Florian Wirtz: Xabi Alonso’s decision to stay at Bayer Leverkusen is set to frustrate Manchester City and Liverpool’s quest to sign the Germany midfielder, 20, reports HITC.

Archie Gray: Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have joined Premier League clubs in watching the Leeds United and England Under-21 midfielder, according to HITC.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted the Premier League title race is “not in our hands” after a goalless draw against Arsenal on Sunday.

With just nine games left in the season, City sit one point behind Arsenal and three adrift of leaders Liverpool, who Guardiola conferred as favourites to end his side’s streak of three successive titles.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the title race is shaping up.

What happened over the weekend?

Liverpool moved into pole position as they bid to give Jurgen Klopp the perfect send-off by coming from a goal behind to beat Brighton 2-1.

The Merseysiders were boosted a few hours later by a bore draw at the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal were at the summit prior to the latest round of fixtures but would have been the happier of the two teams after nullifying City’s attackers.

Guardiola said afterwards: “Always who is first is favourite. The second favourite is Arsenal and we are third.”

Was Guardiola correct?

Maybe, although that was far from him waving the white flag in their attempt at a historic fourth league title in a row – Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have also had a hat-trick of successive crowns but no team has yet done a quadruple.

City will likely have to be close to perfect if they are to pip Liverpool and Arsenal but they have a history of being strong finishers.

At the same stage last season, City were five points adrift of Arsenal but managed to reel them in then overtake them.

Are there any differences between then and now?

Last season, City still had Arsenal to play and triumphed 4-1 at home before the Gunners fell away at the business end.

This time, City can win all nine remaining fixtures and still lose out because they have already played Liverpool and Arsenal twice.

Liverpool have been the biggest thorn in City’s side in the Guardiola era, relegating them to second spot in 2019-20, remarkably their only slip-up in six seasons.

So all Liverpool have to do is win their remaining games?

It would be a major surprise if it turned out simple as that – and that is not a slur on Liverpool’s ability to hold their nerve as they have proved their mettle time and again under Klopp.

But the pressure will continue to build and there are a few tricky fixtures, including visits to north-west rivals Manchester United on Sunday and Everton on April 24.

City next face Villa – the last side to beat them – on Wednesday while both Guardiola’s team and Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal still have to go to Tottenham between now and the end of the campaign.

All three teams are still in the hunt for European crowns, too – City and Arsenal in the Champions League and Liverpool in the Europa League – and this may be a distracting factor as well.

So there are still plenty of twists and turns to come, then?

In all likelihood, yes.

Liverpool have the edge but they have never had the threat of City breathing down their necks – the Reds were out of sight in 2020 when the crunch time came.

City have proved they enjoy being the hunters, even if they have not been firing on all cylinders recently, and Guardiola will surely not want Klopp to have the last laugh in their rivalry.

Arsenal cannot be discounted either and look a better team than the one that subsided last season, as evidenced by Sunday’s stalemate after a thrashing by City 12 months ago.

In short, a dramatic finale looms.

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