Sadio Mane says he achieved everything he could at Liverpool and is excited to embark on a new challenge after signing for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Mane has left Liverpool after a hugely successful six-year spell at the club, for whom he scored 90 goals in 196 Premier League games, a tally bettered only by Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy (104), Mane's Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah (118) and Tottenham's Harry Kane (134) in that time.

The Senegal international's six major trophy wins at Anfield included the Champions League in 2018-19 and Liverpool's first-ever Premier League title the following year, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup.

Mane had made his intention to join Bayern clear after scoring 23 goals in all competitions as Jurgen Klopp's side won both domestic cups in the 2021-22 season, and his €41million move to Germany was confirmed by the Bavarian giants on Wednesday. 

In a farewell interview with the Reds' official media channels, Mane declared himself "Liverpool's number one fan" and said his move to Germany was motivated purely by a desire to prove himself elsewhere.

"Obviously it is strange – really, really strange – to no longer be a Liverpool player after six years," he said. "But of course, I had a great time, an unbelievable time.

"Since my first day I really, really enjoyed training, playing at Anfield especially, and in front of these amazing supporters.

"I think whoever is leaving Liverpool, with those supporters you will always miss them because [they are] the best in the world and I have always said it. Playing at Anfield I think always gives you so much power because of the fans. 

"I still have my house in Liverpool and everything so for sure I will come back, of course, and I would love one day to come back to Anfield to say hi to them and of course to watch Liverpool playing. I am going to be Liverpool's number one fan – after the supporters!"

Asked if he felt he had achieved everything he could with the Reds, Mane added: "Yeah, for sure. Like I said, from the first day I came to the club, I spoke to the boss when I was in Southampton and I think at that time we were not even in the Champions League. 

"He called me and I said, 'For sure.' I just decided in my heart that I am coming to Liverpool because that is where I see myself, and for me it was the right time and the right club to achieve everything. 

"I can say of course we won a lot and I spent a great, great time there. Like I always say, my life is always [about a] challenge and when it came, I said to the club that I want to leave, I want to go somewhere else to see a new challenge. 

"It is not anything else, it is just a challenge because for me I want to always be challenging myself to get better and better.

"There was a lot of speculation but I'm not a confused boy in my head. I know what I want and I know what is professional so for me, I was not even thinking about it [during the season] because I was still a Liverpool player and we had really, really important games.

"I will say that when I was a kid that was my dream, to win everything possible: trophies and individual trophies as well, that was my dream. That is the reason I never stopped working, I am a very hard worker. Of course, for me it was the right time and the right club."

Mane formed part of a fearsome front three alongside Salah and Roberto Firmino at Anfield, which has been refreshed with Liverpool's signings of Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez this year.

And 30-year-old Mane thinks the Reds' goalscoring burden remains in good hands despite his exit.

"Bobby and Mo – what players!" he added. "I think there are no other secrets because playing alongside these great players, they make everything easier for me. 

"I think I am just supporting this and especially Bobby, who always dropped and made space for me and Mo, I think it was just incredible. 

"These two players, Liverpool still have great players and you have now Diogo [Jota] and Diaz also – wow, what a player they have! But it's normal, it's the best club in the world, so I wish them all the best."

Mohamed Salah's Liverpool future could hinge on Barcelona's attempts to sign Robert Lewandowski, according to former Reds star John Barnes, with the forward linked with a move to Camp Nou next year.

Salah scored 31 goals and added 15 assists across all competitions for Liverpool last season as Jurgen Klopp's team won the EFL and FA Cups but fell just short of the Premier League and Champions League titles.

But the Egypt star's future has been debated for some time, with his contract due to expire in 2023 and no agreement on fresh terms appearing imminent. 

Salah has most recently been linked with a free transfer to Barcelona at the end of his current deal, though the Catalan giants, who have financial difficulties, are also attempting to attract wantaway Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski.

The Poland star is one of just four players in the big five European leagues to register more goal involvements (56) than Salah (46) in all competitions last term (also Kylian Mbappe with 60, Karim Benzema with 59 and Christopher Nkunku with 51).

Lewandowski hit 50 goals and recorded six assists for Bayern last season, and Barnes believes Barca's attempts to acquire him will have repercussions for Salah. 

"Of course you're looking at the money that Barcelona can spend - I can see him at Liverpool for another year, and then maybe going on a free transfer at the end of the season," Barnes told Stats Perform.

"I don't know what the situation is, but at the moment he's at Liverpool. So I don't know. If he stays, he'll still play with the right attitude and commitment. 

"Where can you see him? Who knows in football - have Barcelona got the finances to actually do that? Because of course, there's still talk about Lewandowski going there. 

"I think that at the end of the year, we'll see. I think it really has a lot to do with where Lewandowski goes."  

 

Liverpool's attack has already undergone a significant shake-up after the club added Benfica striker Darwin Nunez to their ranks and sold Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich this month, having already been boosted by Luis Diaz joining from Porto in January. 

The future of the final member of Klopp's former first-choice front three, Roberto Firmino, is also in doubt with the Brazilian's contract due to expire at the same time as Salah's.

But Barnes believes tying the number nine to fresh terms is not a priority for Liverpool, insisting Firmino is under-rated but noting he has dropped down the pecking order recently.

"Well, it's not necessarily a priority," he said of Firmino's contract situation. "This is football. Bobby's a fantastic player.

"In fact, of the front three, he's been my favourite player of the period because of what he brings to the team, in terms of his hold-up play, his build-up play, his work-rate for the team.

"The reason why Salah and Mane scored those goals is because of Firmino, if we had Lewandowski in the team, Salah and Mane would not have scored that many goals because of course, they would have been creating for him.

"He's very undervalued. I don't necessarily think is a priority because now we've got Nunez, we've got [Diogo] Jota, Salah is still there, you have Diaz, so at his particular age he may not be a priority but I'd love to see him stay. 

"He has to decide whether he's quite happy to come and be a part of the squad rather than playing regularly. But I would love to see him stay, definitely."

There has been a lot of talk about the money Liverpool are investing in Darwin Nunez.

The Uruguay striker arrives at Anfield for a fee that will likely end up surpassing their previous club record of £75million spent on Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January 2018.

Benfica confirmed on Monday they had agreed to sell Nunez to Liverpool for an initial fee of £64m (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in add-ons. Liverpool provided their own confirmation on Tuesday.

The Merseyside club will likely be saying goodbye to a key player at the same time, though, with Sadio Mane being strongly linked with a move to Bayern Munich.

So can Nunez emulate what the Senegal star has been able to in his time at Liverpool, or can he even surpass it?

Stats Perform has taken a look at the 22-year-old to see what Liverpool might be getting for their cash.

Is Nunez a Mane replacement?

What appears to stand out above all else is that Nunez is being signed primarily to score goals.

He may not have hit the ground running at Benfica after making a €24m move from Almeria in September 2020, netting just six times in 29 Primeira Liga games (19 starts) in 2020-21, but he more than made up for it this season.

Nunez had an expected goals (xG) rating of 9.98 in his first season according to Opta, suggesting he was not scoring as many as he should, which he almost overcompensated for in 2021-22 by recording 26 goals in 28 league games (24 starts) from 18.4 xG.

By comparison, Mane – who is in the conversation for the 2022 Ballon d'Or – scored 16 goals in 34 Premier League appearances (32 starts) an xG figure remarkably similar to Nunez (18.3). So, while the chances that went their way were of a comparable value over the course of the season, the Uruguayan proved far more clinical.

The relative difference in quality between the top flights in England and Portugal must be taken into account, of course, but in the Champions League the duo also matched up well.

Nunez scored six goals from 10 appearances (six starts) from an xG of just 3.1, while Mane registered five goals from 13 games (11 starts) from an xG of 4.5. Once again, the 22-year-old proved a more dependable finisher of chances than the Senegal star.

Whether Nunez can translate this to English football remains to be seen, but there are other interesting parallels between the two players which indicate they are perhaps not as different as some appear to think.

In their respective leagues last season, Nunez and Mane also offered a similar degree of creativity. The former registered four assists from an expected assists (xA) total of 4.8, while Mane had two from 4.4 xA to his name, suggesting he was let down by poor finishing from his team-mates on occasion.

Both players have proven themselves to be comfortable running with the ball as well, attempting 86 dribbles each over the 2021-22 season, though Mane's success rate of 54.7 per cent was significantly better than Nunez's 45.4.

Of course, the chief difference between the pair is the fact former Southampton attacker Mane has mostly played off the left for Liverpool, whereas Nunez is primarily a centre forward.

That should not be an issue though, given the Reds addressed that side of the pitch only a few months ago by shopping in a familiar market.

Primeira Liga? Completed it, amigo

To the surprise of many, not least Liverpool, they had their hand forced at the end of the January transfer window and signed Luis Diaz from Porto, so it is a league they clearly know well.

Not that they hadn't already intended to buy Diaz, but reports suggested the plan was to do so at the end of the season, only for an unexpected advance from Tottenham to make them bring the transaction forward.

It proved a welcome necessity as Diaz hit the ground running and played a big part in Liverpool almost doing the unthinkable and winning an unprecedented quadruple.

However, with the Colombian taking the role on the left of the attack, Mane was asked to play in an unfamiliar central position for the remainder of the campaign, though broadly to impressive effect.

Nunez will be a slightly more natural fit in that central role, and like Diaz will be hoping the transition from the Primeira Liga to the Premier League is a relatively seamless one.

He already showed in his two performances against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals this term that he can cut it against English opposition.

In the first leg in Lisbon, Jurgen Klopp's men ran out 3-1 winners, but Nunez scored the Benfica goal and played well enough that Virgil van Dijk recently listed him as one of his toughest ever opponents in an interview with Rio Ferdinand.

He arguably impressed more in the return leg at Anfield, when Van Dijk did not play. Nunez often pulled out to the left and stretched Liverpool's defence, and had it not been for their effective offside trap, could have had a hat-trick.

Nunez put the ball in the Liverpool net three times, but two were ruled out by the assistant referee as Benfica drew 3-3, losing 6-4 on aggregate.

He showed his force of personality in the final 10 minutes though as he also brought a tremendous save out of Alisson, and almost dragged his team back into a contest they had previously been well out of.

Can Liverpool adapt to Nunez?

Two of Liverpool's goals that night were scored by Roberto Firmino, who was excellent under the Anfield floodlights, but who has seen his previously key role in Liverpool's attack diminish in recent years.

It was appreciated that the way the Brazil international played in more of a 'false nine' role allowed Mane and Mohamed Salah to thrive, until the arrival of Diogo Jota in 2020, which signalled a slight move away from that as the former Wolves man increasingly played a role closer to that of a traditional striker in Klopp's system.

It oversimplifies Nunez to suggest he is an out and out number nine in the mould of an Erling Haaland. He drops deep and pulls wide similarly to smaller attackers, like the ones already at Liverpool in fact.

However, at 6ft 2in tall, he could also provide a weapon that will have the eyes of Liverpool full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson lighting up, particularly the former.

No other defender in Europe's top five leagues created anything like Alexander-Arnold's 129 chances this season, with Robertson second on 90, ahead of Fiorentina's Cristiano Biraghi (89).

He also created the most 'big chances' this season (defined by Opta as a chance from which a goal would be expected) with 27, while only Hoffenheim's David Raum (226) and RB Leipzig's Angelino (211) provided more open play crosses than his 191.

On paper, Nunez has everything needed to succeed in the Premier League. Pace, power, skill, shooting accuracy and lovely hair.

The Darwin evolution puns are already wearing thin, for which we take partial responsibility, but it will be best for the player if he ignores all comparisons.

Nunez can simply be his own man.

Liverpool and Brazil forward Roberto Firmino has said he wants to stay at the Premier League club.

Firmino is out of contract at the end of next season, as are fellow attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Salah said at a media conference on Wednesday that he will still be at Liverpool next season, though stopped short of committing his long-term future to the club, while Mane said he will reveal his plans after Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid.

However, speaking to TNT Sports Brasil, Firmino was less cryptic, making clear his desire to stay on Merseyside.

"I am very happy here," he said. "I am grateful to God that I am here playing for a great club with great players, winning trophies, and I want to stay here. I want to be here.

"I'm happy here, so that's all that I can say."

Firmino has struggled for game time at Liverpool this season, partly due to injury and partly due to the January signing of Luis Diaz, whose arrival has seen Mane deployed in Firmino's usual role through the middle.

There was also the early season form of Diogo Jota, but the Brazil international has still made 34 appearances (17 starts) in all competitions, scoring 11 goals.

Liverpool moved just one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race after beating Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Second half goals from Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino were enough to seal victory for Jurgen Klopp's men, who avoided some scares before taking control just before the hour.

Mohamed Salah started the game on the bench after picking up a slight foot injury in Saturday's 2-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, with Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Jota making up the Reds' forward line.

Mikel Arteta will be unhappy with the result but his side remain in fourth place, a point ahead of Manchester United with two games still in hand, while Liverpool are now breathing down City's neck at the top.

Virgil van Dijk had Aaron Ramsdale working early as he headed a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner towards goal, but the Arsenal goalkeeper was able to palm it away.

The Gunners had the better of the first half without really creating any chances, though Gabriel Martinelli in particular was troubling Liverpool down the hosts' left side.

Sadio Mane had the ball in the net early in the second half though it was ruled out for offside, before sloppy play from Thiago gave Martin Odegaard the chance to score, but Alisson made a fantastic save to deny the Norwegian.

Thiago made up for that mistake shortly after with a tremendous throughball for Jota, whose left-foot shot squirmed past Ramsdale at his near post to give the visitors a 54th-minute lead.

Klopp decided to make two changes immediately after with Jota and Luis Diaz coming off for Salah and Firmino, and it was the latter who doubled the lead just after the hour mark, with the Brazilian flicking an Andy Robertson cross into the net from close range.

What does it mean? Imperious Liverpool giving us a title race

If we're honest, most people thought it was over. Man City were 14 points clear at the top just a few weeks ago, albeit Liverpool had two games in hand at the time.

Now, after 29 games each, the Reds sit just a point behind Pep Guardiola's side, and will go top for at least a brief period if they avoid defeat to Watford at Anfield in their next league game.

Liverpool have now won their last nine Premier League games, scoring 23 goals and conceding just two in this run. Away from home, the Reds have only failed to win five of their 15 league trips this season (D3 L2).

Jota the slotter downs Gunners again

Some players have better records against some teams than others. Robbie Fowler had a great record against Arsenal, Roberto Firmino has a very good record against Arsenal, and Diogo Jota has an outstanding record against *checks notes*… Arsenal.

The Portugal international has scored six goals in last five appearances against the north London side in all competitions. Indeed, only Jamie Vardy (five) has netted as many goals at the Emirates Stadium as a visitor than Jota.

Arsenal's woeful Reds record continues

The hosts were more than a match for Liverpool in the first half, but just could not find that extra bit of quality to ensure the score matched their efforts, similarly to how they lost to Man City at home earlier in the season having played well.

Arsenal have now won just one of their last 19 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions (D8 L10), beating them 2-1 at home in July 2020 after Klopp's men had already been crowned champions.

What's next?

Arsenal travel to Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday while it's FA Cup quarter-final action for Liverpool as they head to Nottingham Forest – who knocked the Gunners out in the third round – on Sunday.

Liverpool will monitor the fitness of Diogo Jota ahead of their EFL Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday, but Reds assistant manager Pep Ljinders confirmed Roberto Firmino is out of contention.

Jota and Firmino suffered knocks against Inter in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on February 16, and subsequently missed Premier League wins over Norwich City and Leeds United.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp conceded that the pair were both doubts for the final before the Leeds' game, in which fellow attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane netted two goals each.

Ljinders provided another update on the duo on Friday as he offered faint hope that Jota could play some part against Thomas Tuchel's men.

"Bobby [Firmino] we will have to see in the next two days, he's pushing himself really hard, but he will not be available for the final, to reach the squad," Ljinders said.
 
"We hope he will be back really soon because you all see and feel how important he is for our way of playing. [We are] happy that he's pushing himself, hopefully he's soon back.
 
"Jota, there has been so far no reaction on the things he did – the straight-line running, the little ball work he did, so that's a good sign. He isn't ruled out but it will still be a challenge."

The Reds will be hoping Jota can beat the clock to feature, given he could become only the second ever Liverpool player to score in each of the quarter-final, semi-final and final of the competition in a single season (replays included), after Kenny Dalglish in 1980-81.

Nevertheless, Klopp's side will be left in capable hands even without Jota, with new boy Luis Diaz, Salah and Mane to call upon in the frontline.

Mane has scored eight goals against Chelsea in all competitions, only netting more in his career in England against Crystal Palace (13), while Salah leads the Premier League scoring charts with 19 this term.

The Senegal international, however, is yet to score an EFL Cup goal for the Reds in three previous appearances for them in the competition, the most recent of which was against Chelsea in the 2018-19 third round.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has conceded injured forwards Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will not be fit for the Premier League clash with Leeds United, and that both face a race against time to make Sunday's EFL Cup final against Chelsea.

Jota, whose tally of 12 league goals for the season is bettered only by Mohamed Salah among Liverpool players, suffered a knock in last week's Champions League win at Inter, while Firmino reported discomfort after the same fixture.

Both forwards sat out the Reds' 3-1 Premier League win over Norwich, with fellow attackers Salah, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz all finding the net.

Ahead of a week in which Liverpool can close the gap to Manchester City in the Premier League to just three points, before looking to lift their first domestic cup since 2012, Klopp was not hopeful about the pair's prospects.

"For tomorrow [Wednesday, against Leeds], no chance, and then [for] the final we will see", Klopp said. "It would be easy to say 'no' now, but we will see. 

"They are [pushing], but they were not on the training pitch [yet] so that's not a good sign. 

"We have to see what we can do with the boys in the next few days, and then make a decision later in the week."

Liverpool, who have only failed to score in one of their last 23 meetings with Leeds in all competitions, netting in each of their last 16 in a row since a goalless draw in April 1999, will go within three points of City if they beat the Whites at Anfield, but Klopp was keen to highlight Leeds' strengths before the contest.

"We saw all the faces of Leeds United on Sunday [in their 4-2 defeat to Manchester United]," he added.

"They are very brave and very exciting. Offensively, they go with everything they have. Defensively, you can cause them problems, but that is difficult as well, because of their man-marking all over the pitch.

"If you are not really up for the game, they will eat you."

Simone Inzaghi joked he was relieved Inter did not have to face Liverpool in every match after they suffered a late 2-0 loss in their Champions League encounter. 

The last-16 first leg at San Siro looked destined for a 0-0 draw but Roberto Firmino glanced home a header – the first effort on target of the match – in the 75th minute to put Liverpool in front. 

Mohamed Salah then marked his 50th Champions League appearance for the club with his 33rd goal for the Reds in the competition – only Cristiano Ronaldo (51 for Real Madrid) and Robert Lewandowski (36 for Bayern Munich) had managed more at the same point for a single team. 

Inter performed well until Firmino broke the deadlock. They looked more threatening and hit the crossbar through Hakan Calhanoglu in the first half. 

However, they were unable to stop Jurgen Klopp becoming just the eight coach to reach 50 wins in the Champions League, with Inzaghi pleased they do not have to lock horns too often. 

"We hope not to face Liverpool every game," Inzaghi told Amazon Prime. 

"I am happy and proud of the team. Unfortunately, during our best period of the game, we were not rewarded with the goal we deserved, then Liverpool scored at the first half-distraction we had. 

"We certainly deserved more, but this performance has to bode well for what is to come in the future. Liverpool are one of the two best teams in Europe in my view. We held out well and deserved more. 

"We know these evenings can be like this, but it has to give us a self-esteem boost because it was an excellent performance. 

"It's difficult to comment after a result like this, but it has to be a starting point for Inter at this level. I think this is the strongest opponent we've faced this season." 

Edin Dzeko, who had a goal correctly ruled out for offside in the 60th minute, also felt there were positives for Inter to take ahead of the second leg at Anfield on March 8. 

"We did well for 75 minutes, giving away very little to Liverpool. It's a shame to concede from a corner, where we are usually strong. But this is what happens with great teams; if you don't score, they'll punish you," said Dzeko. 

"Everyone gave their all for 90 minutes, but it wasn't enough. We come out of this defeat with our heads held high because we know we have given everything. 

"It's not a positive result for us, but first we have to focus on Serie A and then we'll see." 

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah struck late to put Liverpool in command of their Champions League tie with Inter thanks to a 2-0 win at San Siro. 

Inter looked the most dangerous of the two sides across the first hour, with Hakan Calhanoglu rattling the crossbar inside 16 minutes. 

However, after replacing Diogo Jota at half-time, substitute Firmino glanced an excellent header across goal to score with the game's first effort on target in the 75th minute. 

Salah doubled Liverpool's advantage eight minutes later with a deflected shot, leaving Inter with it all to do in the return leg of the last-16 showdown at Anfield on March 8. 

Jurgen Klopp's men had a chance to open the scoring in the 14th minute, but Sadio Mane was unable to keep his header from the edge of the six-yard box down. 

Inter went closer two minutes later, with Calhanoglu finding a pocket of space in the box before seeing his snapshot come back off the woodwork. 

Lautaro Martinez arrived just too late to turn in an Ivan Perisic cross as the hosts started the second half brightly, while Edin Dzeko saw a goal correctly disallowed for offside in the 60th minute. 

The introduction of Luis Diaz gave Liverpool fresh impetus, but it was Firmino who broke the deadlock with a fine header. 

Salah ensured the victory was beyond doubt when his shot squirmed over the line in the 83rd minute, putting a place in the quarter-finals firmly within Liverpool's reach. 

Jurgen Klopp stressed the need for Liverpool's attackers to step up in the absence of Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane, ahead of their Premier League clash with Brentford at Anfield.

With Salah and Mane featuring at the Africa Cup of Nations, Klopp's side struggled to create clear-cut opportunities last time out, in a goalless draw with Arsenal in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

Following a six-game winning run in November and December, Liverpool are also winless in their last three Premier League games, throwing away a lead to draw two of those games.

Speaking ahead of Brentford's first trip to Anfield since March 1989, Klopp praised the contribution of Roberto Firmino, before calling for other players in his Reds squad to step up.

"He [Firmino] is a very smart player", Klopp said in a news conference. "His game is about using his team-mates in the way that he can use them.

"It's not just about being able to score goals in this way or that way.

"In one of our biggest games in recent history we played without Mo [a 7-0 win at Crystal Palace in December 2020, where Salah spent the first hour on the bench], and we won against Manchester United [a 5-0 victory earlier this season] without Mane.

"Now both are out, and that is not cool, but we don't think [of Firmino] 'you have to be like him or like him'". 

Salah and Mane have scored 24 Premier League goals between them this season, on par with their combined expected goals (xG).

Firmino, meanwhile, has only netted four league goals this campaign, with an October hat-trick against Watford representing his only Premier League strikes since the opening day.

Klopp was also asked about the role of versatile youngster Curtis Jones, who made a lively cameo from the bench in Liverpool's frustrating draw with the Gunners, and stressed the need for Jones to show greater consistency. 

"I had a long talk last week with Curtis," Klopp said. "I love the boy, I love the potential he has, but we have to make sure he makes those next steps, and fulfils that potential on the pitch.

"You have these kinds of conversations when you are not 100 per cent happy with a player in that moment. We have to find a way for him to show this [potential] much more often."

Jones provided just one goal and two assists in 24 league appearances last season, featuring regularly as Liverpool battled an injury crisis, and Klopp highlighted the need for the midfielder to contribute in the absence of the side's bigger names.

"It's an ongoing process between Curtis and me. We've had a tricky period, especially with Covid, which is not helpful, but now we'll try to make sure he can show how good he can be," Klopp added.

Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip will all miss Liverpool's trip to Chelsea on Sunday after they returned positive COVID-19 tests ahead of the clash at Stamford Bridge.

It follows the announcement on Saturday that manager Jurgen Klopp will also be absent from the game for the same reason.

The Reds are already without Thiago, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott with injuries, while Andrew Robertson misses the game through suspension.

Caoimhin Kelleher replaces Alisson in goal, with the Ireland international set to make just his fourth Premier League appearance, while Ibrahima Konate comes in for Matip and Diogo Jota continues up front with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who both play their last Premier League game before heading off for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are without Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian striker was dropped for recent comments in the media that displeased his boss Thomas Tuchel.

Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante come back into the side after neither started the 1-1 draw with Brighton on Wednesday, while Marcos Alonso replaces the injured Reece James and Kai Havertz comes in for Lukaku.

Both sides will be desperate for a win to stay as close as possible to league leaders Manchester City after Pep Guardiola's men snatched a late victory at Arsenal on Saturday to go 11 points clear of second-place Chelsea.

TEAMS

Chelsea: Edouard Mendy, Trevor Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic. Subs: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Malang Sarr, Lewis Hall, Jorginho, Saul Niguez, Ross Barkley, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Harvey Vale, Hakim Ziyech. 

Liverpool: Caoimhin Kelleher, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Kostas Tsimikas, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota. Subs: Adrian, Marcelo Pitaluga, Naby Keita, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Owen Beck, Neco Williams, Tyler Morton.

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Roberto Firmino has sustained a "serious hamstring injury" and is set for a spell on the sidelines.

Firmino was introduced at half-time in the Reds' 2-0 Champions League win over Atletico Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday, but was forced off in the 78th minute.

When the striker will return to action is not clear, but Klopp expects the Brazil international to be out for at least four weeks.

"Bobby is not good news with a serious hamstring injury, really unfortunate," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "We don’t know exactly how long he will be out, but it will be not now after the international break directly. We have to work on that."

Klopp reiterated the significance of the 30-year-old's absence in his pre-match news conference ahead of a Premier League meeting with West Ham on Sunday:

The German boss said: "Losing Bobby Firmino is a blow. I don't think I need to say how big it is. It's a serious injury.

"We talk about weeks - more than four I consider as a serious injury. Then we have to see. Bobby is a quick healer."

Joe Gomez (calf) and Curtis Jones [eye] are also out of the Reds' trip to London, but Klopp expects both to return after the upcoming international break. 

Klopp was less sure about Naby Keita and James Milner, but hopes they will be back in action before long as they recover from thigh injuries.

"Curtis is a completely different story [to Firmino], he was very unlucky in training – he got a finger that scratched the eye," Klopp continued to Liverpool's official website. 

"I had a lot of injuries to players in my career, that was not [one]. He is on the way back but we have to see how long exactly. 

"He will be back after the international break, for sure, but in the international break we have to see when he can start doing proper stuff again. And Joey, hopefully, after the international break as well.

"We will see [about Keita and Milner]. For them, I have hope for after the international break but I don’t know exactly. We have to wait. That’s two weeks and a few days from now on, so that’s what I would really wish for but I cannot promise that. But that’s what we are working on."

Liverpool assistant head coach Pep Lijnders has described Liverpool's attackers as being "like raptors from Jurassic Park" after the 5-0 hammering of Manchester United.

The Reds have been potent this season, their tally of 41 goals in all competitions bettered only by Bayern Munich (60) among teams from Europe's top five leagues.

Mohamed Salah has been responsible for 15 of those goals, making him the second-highest goalscorer among Europe's elite this season behind Robert Lewandowski (17).

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have six each, while, and Diogo Jota – who scored against United on Sunday – has four to his name.

Each of Liverpool's forwards have been in fantastic form and Lijnders puts that down to Jurgen Klopp's men going back to basics.

"I think it has to do with the way we are playing," he said during a news conference on Tuesday previewing the midweek EFL Cup last-16 tie with Preston North End. 

"It's the whole package that means our front players get into good positions. The front three look like raptors in Jurassic Park! 

"We haven't changed anything. Sometimes improving is going back to basics. Players needed a break after a few intense and emotional seasons."

With his hat-trick at Old Trafford, Salah has now scored in a club-record 10 successive matches for Liverpool in all competitions.

The Egypt international, who surpassed Didier Drogba (104) as the highest-scoring African in Premier League history with 106 goals, is expected to be rested against Preston.

Takumi Minamino scored twice and Divock Origi was on target as Liverpool swept aside Norwich City 3-0 in the last round and both players are in line to start again at Deepdale on Wednesday.

"We are used to making changes," Lijnders said. "We have to do things the right way by training and recovering correctly. 

"That's what I like about us – we prepare at the same level no matter who the opponent. We have to show our fans that same hunger and desire.

"Origi is the top scorer in this competition. He is a world-class finisher and is looking sharp, as is Minamino. Last season went to show that we need all of our players.

"They all have to show the right mentality and be ready. They have to stay patient and keep training hard."

Lijnders confirmed James Milner will miss Liverpool's next four matches ahead of the international break with a hamstring injury sustained in the win at Old Trafford.

Naby Keita also came off in that game following a strong challenge from Paul Pogba, who was shown a red card, but Liverpool's assistant was able to provide a more positive update on the midfielder.

"Naby has a bruise in this moment, which we are assessing day by day," Lijnders said.

"Thankfully his leg wasn't planted, but it's still a painful one. It's looking good. Fabinho will also be monitored daily and may return next weekend."

Liverpool travel to Preston aiming to keep alive their good record against lower-league opposition in the EFL Cup, having progressed from 16 of their past 17 such ties.

"Our priority is to put on a good display," Lijnders added. "That is the case from the start of the season until the end.

"Our game needs freshness and we want the opponents to feel our attack. The only way we will be able to properly press is to rotate.

"We are taking it game by game and are hoping to maintain our consistency."

Manchester United suffered a torrid second-half spell to succumb to defeat against Leicester City in Saturday's headline Premier League clash.

Failure at the King Power Stadium places further questions over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tenure ahead of a daunting schedule but neighbours Manchester City did not experience similar problems as the defending champions cruised to yet another victory over Burnley.

City's fellow title contenders Chelsea made London derby history as they battled past Brentford after Liverpool's fearsome front three had comfortably dispatched Claudio Ranieri's new Watford side.

In the other fixtures, Wolves shocked Aston Villa to overturn a two-goal deficit and Norwich City fought for a goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion, while Southampton registered their first win over a depleted Leeds United.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the fixtures from the day.

Watford 0-5 Liverpool: Mane hits century as Salah continues scoring run

Roberto Firmino became the first Brazilian to score more than one hat-trick in the Premier League as Ranieri fell to defeat by the biggest margin of any manager in their first home game with a new club in the competition.

Firmino's first two goals followed Mane's opener as the Senegal international hit his 100th Premier League goal, without scoring a penalty, with only Les Ferdinand (149) and Emile Heskey (110) previously achieving such a feat.

Mohamed Salah played an exquisite pass for Mane's landmark goal but the Egypt forward also found the net as he danced through Watford's defence to become the joint-top scoring African – level with Didier Drogba (104) – in the history of the competition.

His left-footed curler also made him the first Liverpool player since Daniel Sturridge in 2014 to score in eight consecutive games in all competitions as Jurgen Klopp's side became the first top-flight side to ever score three-plus goals in seven consecutive away games across all competitions.

Leicester City 4-2 Manchester United: Foxes end Red Devils record away run

Mason Greenwood edged United ahead with his fifth strike from outside the box in 21 Premier League goals – only David Beckham and Nani have managed a higher share of goals for the club from in such a fashion of those to score 20 times.

However, just 54 seconds split Marcus Rashford's equaliser for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to make it 2-2 and Jamie Vardy putting the hosts 3-2 to the good.

Patson Daka then became the first Zambian scorer in the Premier League, with 105 different nations now having a goalscorer, as Leicester won three consecutive games in all competitions against the Red Devils for the first time since 1901.

Not only did the Foxes, who have conceded in seven straight top-flight games under Brendan Rodgers, make history they also ended the visitors' record run as 30 games without a loss on the road came to an abrupt end.

Brentford 0-1 Chelsea: Blues make history in the capital against unlucky Brentford

Ben Chilwell's third goal in three games – as many as in his last 33 appearances in the league – inspired Chelsea to a record-breaking seventh consecutive away win in London derbies.

Thomas Tuchel's men have conceded just three goals this term – the fewest they have conceded at this stage since 2010-11 (two) – as the Blues won their 15th game against new top-flight opposition in 16 attempts.

Meanwhile, Brentford – who were stifled by Edouard Mendy's 20th clean sheet in 38 games – remain winless in seven matches against Chelsea, losing each of their last three by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0.

Manchester City 2-0 Burnley: Guardiola's men maintain dominance over the Clarets 

City cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory at Etihad Stadium, meaning they now boast a 32-1 aggregate scoreline over Burnley in their last nine games across all competitions.

Pep Guardiola's side have now kept clean sheets in six of their eight league games this term – more than any other side – as Kevin de Bruyne netted for consecutive top-flight games for the first time since July 2020.

The Clarets, who are on the longest winless run in England's top four tiers (11), are Bernardo Silva's favourite opponent, the Portugal international directly involved in seven goals in eight games.

Liverpool romped to a convincing 5-0 win over Watford at Vicarage Road with Roberto Firmino netting a hat-trick as the Hornets produced a hapless showing in Claudio Ranieri's first game in charge.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring with his 100th Premier League goal, calmly finishing first-time into the bottom corner from Mohamed Salah's lovely ball in behind.

Firmino profited from poor Watford defending to find the net either side of half-time, tapping in from James Milner's pass after the home defence had been carved open, before pouncing on a loose ball from a badly defended cross.

Salah then scored a sensational solo goal, making a mockery of three defenders' attempts to win the ball from him before curling emphatically into the far corner, while Firmino struck again in stoppage-time to compound the hosts' misery.

Page 1 of 3
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.