Diogo Jota gets a first Premier League start in 2021 as one of seven changes made by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp for the home game against Fulham on Sunday. 

Having suffered a knee injury in December, Jota made a return to first-team action on Thursday, though his appearance off the bench could not help the Reds avoid going down 1-0 to top-four rivals Chelsea at Anfield. 

The Portuguese forward is named in the starting XI to take on relegation-threatened Fulham, with Roberto Firmino ruled out due to what Liverpool announced to be a "minor knock". 

Klopp named Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane on a strong bench, with the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig to come on Wednesday. 

The decision to leave Fabinho out means Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams start together at the heart of the defence. Neco Williams, meanwhile, takes over from Alexander-Arnold at right-back. 

James Milner and Naby Keita come into the Liverpool midfield, while Mohamed Salah – who did not hide his disappointment at being substituted against Chelsea in midweek – starts too, along with Xherdan Shaqiri. 

French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain are plotting an ambitious move for Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

PSG, headed up by ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, are keen to replace 34-year-old Keylor Navas.

De Gea has been with United since 2011 and has two years remaining on his contract.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO TEMPT UNITED

Mega-rich PSG would be able to offer United a significant fee for the 30-year-old De Gea and match his £375,000-a-week wages, according to The Sun.

United have been linked with a move for Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is coming off contract, while Dean Henderson has pushed De Gea this season to be number one.

PSG have also been linked with Tottenham custodian Hugo Lloris given his connection with Pochettino from their time together at Spurs.

ROUND-UP

- AS reports that Liverpool could enter the race for Kylian Mbappe, due to the alleged rift between forward Mohamed Salah and manager Jurgen Klopp.

- West Ham have turned to Stuttgart's Sasa Kalajdzic in their search for a striker, according to the Daily Mail. In the queue already are RB Leipzig and Roma.

- Limited funds means Barcelona are out of the race for Wolves' Adama Traore, according to Mundo Deportivo. The Spain international has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester City.

- UOL Esporte reports that Manchester United have registered an interest in Leeds United winger Raphinha.

Jurgen Klopp insists he has no doubts over the loyalty of his players, but said if a member of his Liverpool squad wants to leave, then they will be shown the door.

Liverpool's dismal form continued on Thursday, as they went down 1-0 at home to Chelsea – a fifth successive defeat at Anfield, a club record.

The Reds have not won a home game in the Premier League since December 16, while they sit four points off the Champions League places with 12 games remaining.

Sunday's home game against Fulham does at least offer Liverpool a good chance – on paper – to get back on track, though they could only manage a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage earlier in the campaign.

Liverpool have never lost a home Premier League match against a promoted side under Klopp (P15 W14 D1), while Fulham have won just two of their 26 away league games against reigning top-flight champions (D3 L21), beating Ipswich Town 1-0 in March 1963 and Manchester United 3-1 in October 2003.

With the title well out of reach, Klopp has already acknowledged the only goal is to achieve a top-four finish, though the competition is stiff, with West Ham, Everton, Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United all ahead of Liverpool, while Tottenham, Aston Villa and Arsenal could also fancy their chances of catching the Reds.

Asked if he was concerned missing out on the Champions League could result in his star players asking to leave, a bullish Klopp told a news conference: "That's nothing we have to worry about.

"I know that we have loyalty. I know them well enough. If a player wants to leave because we don't play in the Champions League, I don't want him. It's nothing I worry about.

"We all expect more. We are realistic about the things we do. I don't feel like the team leaves me alone in the fire, it's just how it is.

"Nobody else speaks in the club, nobody above me speaks. In Germany, it's typical that the CEO faces the questions. The situation here is different. The owners want me to sort the situation."

Should the worst-case scenario come to pass, however, Klopp is confident it would only be a temporary blip.

"This club will not be a regular out of the Champions League," he added. "The potential and the power. The team, the squad – if they are not all injured. We are ready to battle.

"This club is in a really good position in difficult times, better than others I would say. Nobody has to worry about the future, it's in good hands. That is the best basis for a good future."

Klopp also stressed that the injuries to key players – mainly in his defence, with stand-ins Jordan Henderson and Fabinho then suffering problems – were the primary cause of Liverpool's loss of form.

"I cannot really tell people what they should think. If you want to doubt me, I think that is possible because of the team," Klopp said when asked if he understood any doubts over his ability to turn the situation around.

"If you judge the situation right, it's a difficult year where unity can be shown in a more special way. The boys did not change, the situation changed.

"The reason is the injuries, but last night we had a really good team but faced a really good team. You can always lose this game. If somebody wants to doubt us, I cannot change that."

N'Golo Kante has put fitness worries behind him and is back to doing the work of two people at Chelsea, winning the approval of new boss Thomas Tuchel in the process.

Kante did not start any of Tuchel's first five Premier League games in charge at Stamford Bridge and was also restricted to a 16-minute cameo in the 1-0 Champions League win at Atletico Madrid.

However, Thursday's victory by the same scoreline over Liverpool was Kante's third straight appearance in a Premier League XI and he turned in a typically all-action display.

The 29-year-old France international gained possession 11 times at Anfield, more than any other Chelsea player, while his 14 duels contested were only bettered by Jorginho and Timo Werner (both 16).

"Super big," Tuchel replied when asked how important it was to have Kante back to his best.

"It was clear from the first second in training what this guy is capable of doing. It's unbelievable.

"You see his intensity and in the physical report after matches, you think they maybe tracked two people and put them into one sheet.

"It's unbelievable in terms of what he delivers, in terms of intensity, in terms of ball recoveries and devotion to a group. This is world class, the highest level, and very, very happy that he's in our squad."

Despite not enjoying the most memorable season of his career, the two-time Premier League champion and World Cup winner has made more recoveries (200), tackles (76) and interceptions (57) than any other Chelsea midfielder across all competitions.

Tuchel has an enviable array of options to deploy in the deeper central midfield positions, with the passing accuracy offered by Mateo Kovacic (91.5 per cent) and Jorginho (89) outstripping the less-smooth Kante (86.6).

These figures widen from Tuchel's first game in charge against Wolves on January 27 onwards, with Kovacic and Jorginho almost identical on 91.5 and 91.3 respectively, while Kante is back on 82.5 per cent. Indeed, no Chelsea player ceded position more frequently than the former Leicester City man (18) against Liverpool.

However, Kante brings so much to Chelsea in those aspects more associated with his game.

Despite having restricted game time under Tuchel so far, his per 90 minutes average for recoveries (9), tackles (4.6), interceptions (2.5) and duels won (7.4) are the best of any Chelsea midfielder during this period.

For context, none of his other counterparts average more than one interception per game, while Jorginho's average of 2.7 tackles is the next best behind Kante.

"He comes from injury, he will not now play every game 90 minutes before we arrive at the international break," Tuchel said, adding a note of caution.

"We have to manage him, we do this together with our physical coaches. We have to take care of him so he arrives fit for the international break and, when he comes back, I hope we can rely on him in every game.

"I'm very, very happy to have him, Kova and Jorginho in defensive midfield. This is exactly the level we need in games of the highest level. I'm super happy with all of them."

This competition for places is something Tuchel has already seen to be paying dividends.

"I feel an unbelievable attitude towards training and towards games, I feel the bond between players that is necessary," he added.

"In the whole world where football is played, the teams that stand out are the teams that fight for each other, who are ready to sacrifice, who are happy for each other, who push each other from the bench. This is exactly what I found."

Mohamed Salah has not given Jurgen Klopp sufficient reason to sit down for "a proper talk" about his Liverpool future, the Reds boss insists.

Egypt forward Salah has been a key figure at Anfield since joining from Roma in June 2017, winning the Champions League and Premier League under the guidance of manager Klopp.

This season has seen speculation that Salah may not be as happy with Liverpool as they are with him, amid rumours he could consider leaving the club.

When Klopp substituted Salah 62 minutes into Thursday's league clash with Chelsea, body language suggested  was far from happy with no longer being out on the pitch.

Liverpool, who were 1-0 down at the time of the change, could not find an equaliser and slid to a fifth successive home defeat in the Premier League, a result that damages their prospects of Champions League involvement next season. On Sunday they face Fulham, again at Anfield.

Asked how he would stave off any problem with Salah, Klopp said: "Talking, that's how it always is. I'm not even sure if this situation is now the reason for a proper talk about it.

"Because there were different things. We are 1-0 down, that makes no player happy, you go off and you cannot react how you react in different ways because you are not happy about the game.

"You are a striker and you think you should stay on the pitch, that's completely clear and not an issue. It's just normal life. These things are not our problem."

Salah has had 16 shots of which seven have been on target across his last seven appearances, having had 26 attempts and 13 on target in the seven previous games, 

That suggests form reflective of Liverpool's overall decline since the turn of the year.

They have lost eight matches in 2021 already; however, Klopp says he has no issues with Salah's productivity this season, describing his goalscoring as "absolutely outstanding".

And there he has a strong point, with Salah already bagging 24 goals in 37 games during this campaign, compared to 23 in 48 last term.

He is set to finish well short of the 44 in 52 games he achieved in 2017-18, his first season with the Reds, but so far this campaign he is matching his 'big chance' conversion rate from that season.

Salah took 28 of his 56 big chances in 2017-18 and has put away 16 of 32 this season, for 50 per cent hit rates in each campaign.

He is creating fewer chances this season, however, down from an average of 1.8 last term and a debut-season high of 2.12 to a more modest 1.48 per game.

Klopp suggested giving Salah a rest on Thursday could benefit Liverpool in games to come, as he repudiated any suggestion of unrest in their relationship.

"I could have changed other players as well, that's true," Klopp said.

"It was more about who we bring on. He looked for me like he felt intensity. He probably saw it completely different. That's absolutely fine.

"Half an hour without Mo Salah, maybe that's the reason why he can play on Sunday as well. We make these decisions in the moment, and not with any thoughts in behind.

"The problem is you have to explain it after the game. These kind of stories, so far they didn't happen. I cannot guarantee for the future for all time that it will never happen, but these kind of discussions, we never had.

"I make a decision, the boys accept it. We came together to the top and we came together to the point here, and we will sort it together.

"I cannot not change a player just because it creates a story afterwards. You do it because you think in the moment it's right and you are allowed to judge it afterwards if it was right."

N'Golo Kante has put fitness worries behind him and is back to doing the work of two people at Chelsea, winning the approval of new boss Thomas Tuchel in the process.

Kante did not start any of Tuchel's first five Premier League games in charge at Stamford Bridge and was also restricted to a 16-minute cameo in the 1-0 Champions League win at Atletico Madrid.

However, Thursday's victory by the same scoreline over Liverpool was Kante's third straight appearance in a Premier League XI and he turned in a typically all-action display.

The 29-year-old France international gained possession 11 times at Anfield, more than any other Chelsea player, while his 14 duels contested were only bettered by Jorginho and Timo Werner (both 16).

"Super big," Tuchel replied when asked how important it was to have Kante back to his best.

"It was clear from the first second in training what this guy is capable of doing. It's unbelievable.

"You see his intensity and in the physical report after matches, you think they maybe tracked two people and put them into one sheet.

"It's unbelievable in terms of what he delivers, in terms of intensity, in terms of ball recoveries and devotion to a group. This is world class, the highest level, and very, very happy that he's in our squad."

Despite not enjoying the most memorable season of his career, the two-time Premier League champion and World Cup winner has made more recoveries (200), tackles (76) and interceptions (57) than any other Chelsea midfielder across all competitions.

Tuchel has an enviable array of options to deploy in the deeper central midfield positions, with the passing accuracy offered by Mateo Kovacic (91.5 per cent) and Jorginho (89) outstripping the less-smooth Kante (86.6).

These figures widen from Tuchel's first game in charge against Wolves on January 27 onwards, with Kovacic and Jorginho almost identical on 91.5 and 91.3 respectively, while Kante is back on 82.5 per cent. Indeed, no Chelsea player ceded position more frequently than the former Leicester City man (18) against Liverpool.

However, Kante brings so much to Chelsea in those aspects more associated with his game.

Despite having restricted game time under Tuchel so far, his per 90 minutes average for recoveries (9), tackles (4.6), interceptions (2.5) and duels won (7.4) are the best of any Chelsea midfielder during this period.

For context, none of his other counterparts average more than one interception per game, while Jorginho's average of 2.7 tackles is the next best behind Kante.

"He comes from injury, he will not now play every game 90 minutes before we arrive at the international break," Tuchel said, adding a note of caution.

"We have to manage him, we do this together with our physical coaches. We have to take care of him so he arrives fit for the international break and, when he comes back, I hope we can rely on him in every game.

"I'm very, very happy to have him, Kova and Jorginho in defensive midfield. This is exactly the level we need in games of the highest level. I'm super happy with all of them."

This competition for places is something Tuchel has already seen to be paying dividends.

"I feel an unbelievable attitude towards training and towards games, I feel the bond between players that is necessary," he added.

"In the whole world where football is played, the teams that stand out are the teams that fight for each other, who are ready to sacrifice, who are happy for each other, who push each other from the bench. This is exactly what I found."

Liverpool have suffered a fresh injury blow to their depleted defensive ranks that makes Ozan Kabak a major doubt for Sunday's Anfield clash with Fulham.

Jurgen Klopp revealed the setback in a news conference on Friday, explaining on-loan centre-back Kabak complained of an issue after Thursday's 1-0 home defeat to Chelsea.

The defending Premier League champions have endured a nightmarish run of injuries to their rearguard players, undermining their efforts to be competitive this season.

After losing Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip to long-term injuries, even stand-ins such as midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have been hit by knocks.

And now Kabak joins the extensive list, meaning Liverpool could turn to Nat Phillips or Ben Davies for the visit of relegation-threatened Fulham.

"Ozan had yesterday after the game a little problem," Klopp said. "[He has] played now a lot of games and we will see if he's ready for Fulham. It doesn't look like it at the moment, so we will have to find solutions."

Liverpool have lost five successive home matches in the Premier League, a bewildering statistic given they previously went 68 games unbeaten at their famous stadium. They have also failed to score from any of their last 99 non-penalty shots at Anfield in the league, taking spot-kicks and own goals out of the equation.

They face Fulham at Anfield on Sunday, having lost only once to the Cottagers in 23 previous top-flight home games, a 1-0 defeat in May 2012 under Kenny Dalglish, a fortnight before the Scot was sacked.

It seems inconceivable that Klopp would go the same way should his team lose to Scott Parker's improving side, who are unbeaten in their last seven on the road in the Premier League, but Liverpool's season is unravelling at a dramatic rate.

Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in 11 of their 14 Premier League home games against Fulham, shipping just one goal in each of the other three meetings, yet such has been his team's form that Klopp pointed out Sunday's visitors have gathered more points of late than his Reds.

Although Fulham have won just two of their 26 away league games against reigning top-flight champions (D3 L21), beating Ipswich Town 1-0 in March 1963 and Manchester United 3-1 in October 2003, rarely will they have fancied such an occasion quite like they may see Liverpool as ripe for picking off this weekend.

Asked whether he felt a dip from his team had been inevitable, Klopp said: "I don't think so. I think the most difficult league to stay on top of everything is England.

"It could happen, there's one team who maybe has everything for it: the team, the players, the manager, the money - it's Man City.

"The rest have to fight with all you have to get close and when you're close enough you can maybe make it like we showed last year.

"But there's a big difference between the situation we are in now and the situation that could have happened, coming second or third or whatever in a year where it's not perfect for you.

"Our situation is different. We all agree it's a really strange one, injury-wise, and football is more of a rhythm game than people might think.

"When you can rely on things and when you can build on things, then you can reach your personal best as a team. We never had that situation this year.

"That shows why it will be difficult for us. Of course, the job you have to do is fight with all you have to get results. Maybe not with your absolute best football, but results anyway. That's the point where we didn't do well enough, because we didn't get results.

"We lost even games where we were good. We are very self-critical, we take and face all the criticism. We cannot change the past, the only thing we can try to change is the near future."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted the Premier League loss to Chelsea is a "massive blow" to the club's top-four hopes.

Thursday saw Liverpool's season crash to a new low, the struggling defending champions beaten 1-0 by resurgent visitors Chelsea at Anfield.

Having previously gone three-and-a-half years without a Premier League defeat on home soil, Liverpool have now lost their last five home outings – the longest run in the club's history.

Liverpool, who are first reigning English top-flight champions to lose five home league games in a row, are languishing in seventh position – four points adrift in the race for Champions League qualification and 22 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

"It is a massive blow," German boss Klopp told Sky Sports.

"It is not done yet, but we don't have to talk about if you lose that many games, you don't have the right to go to the Champions League.

"We have to win football games and we know that and we will work on it, but for tonight, it was not enough."

Liverpool have earned just 10 points from 11 Premier League matches in 2021 – only West Brom (nine), Newcastle United (seven) and Southampton (four) picking up fewer.

Star Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold added: "Tough to take. These are the games that we need to win, especially with our aims and targets for the season. I'd say pushing for the top four, it's massively important that we won today.

"But there's nothing we can do about it now, except learn from it and pull out what we could have done better and go again. We're on a quick turnaround to put things right on Sunday."

Liverpool full-back Andy Robertson said the Reds "can't rely on the past" after their fifth consecutive home loss continued their faltering Premier League title defence.

Jurgen Klopp's struggling Liverpool went down 1-0 to Chelsea at Anfield on Thursday – the club losing five successive home games across all competitions for the first time in their history.

Liverpool are also winless in their past seven games at Anfield in the league, with the Reds earning just 10 points from 11 Premier League matches in 2021 – only West Brom (nine), Newcastle United (seven) and Southampton (four) picking up fewer.

The Reds broke numerous records in their title-winning 2019-20 Premier League campaign, including 18 consecutive wins and 24 straight home wins but star Robertson said the current team was well short of those levels and needed to improve.

"Last season is over with, it is done," Robertson told Sky Sports, with Liverpool languishing in seventh position and four points adrift of the top four in the race for Champions League qualification.

"We have nowhere near been good enough to what Liverpool team should be. We are dropping further and it is not good enough.

"Games are running out and we need to put the pressure on the teams below us. People will think we are down and out and we need to get the results to show them we are not. At the moment we are not doing that.

"We can't rely on the past."

Meanwhile, Chelsea's win lifted them into the top four and extended their unbeaten run to 11 games in all competitions – including 10 under new manager Thomas Tuchel.

Mason Mount, who netted the decisive goal in the 42nd minute, labelled the result a "massive win" for the resurgent Blues.

"Massive win," Mount told Sky Sports. "Every game now is a big win, we need to get as many three points as we can. We have the team to do it, we want to keep going.

"Where the season is at the moment it is very tight in the top four, we are in and around and we want to keep pushing.

"We have been on a good run recently, we have been keeping clean sheets but not scoring enough. It was very good to score tonight."

Chelsea face fifth-placed Everton on Monday in a crucial clash in the race for top four and Champions League qualification.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp explained his surprising decision to withdraw Mohamed Salah as the struggling Premier League champions chased a goal during their 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, insisting he did not want to risk an injury for the Reds star.

With Liverpool still trailing to a first-half Mason Mount strike just past the hour mark, Klopp substituted top scorer Salah as part of a double change that saw Diogo Jota and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain enter the fray on Thursday.

Salah made no attempt to hide his displeasure as he took to the bench at Anfield, while his agent somewhat cryptically shared a tweet featuring only a full stop in the immediate aftermath.

However, speaking in his post-match news conference, Klopp played down the significance of the moment, insisting Salah was substituted only to guard against fatigue.

"That the boys look disappointed, that's not a problem. I didn't see what Mo did," Klopp told reporters.
 
"The reason for the substitution... I could have changed other players in that moment, that's true, but the reason was that he looked in that moment like he felt the intensity really and I didn't want to risk him, that's all. 

"It's very rare, I've known him now long, and usually Mo looks surprisingly fresh until the end. 

"[But] he didn't look fresh anymore and I thought that's a sign; in our situation I didn't want to risk him."

Having previously gone three-and-a-half years without a Premier League defeat at Anfield, Liverpool have now lost their last five home outings in the top-flight – the longest run in the club's history.

Liverpool are now seventh in the Premier League, four points adrift of the top four and 22 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

Asked if he had spoken to his players about what needs to be done to arrest that alarming slide, Klopp replied: "Not tonight. I try to be as honest as possible. I told the boys what I saw tonight."

Pushed on what he meant by honesty, the Reds boss added: "It's not that we go for any kind of excuses in these moments. 

"These games are decided in moments, it was always like this. And to get these moments back you have to fight and in some moments you have to fight on a different level as well. 

"That's what I told the boys. In these moments, it's not about tactical things or stuff like that, it's about heart and these kind of things. 

"I'm not saying that the boys didn't show heart, I know that they [did] their best, but talk about the decisive two/three/four per cent. 

"[That] we will start blaming the circumstances or whatever, that's just not the case. 

"We had a good team, a really good team on the pitch tonight, and we played in a lot of moments good football. 

"But not in the decisive moments good enough and there's only one person or group to criticise for that: that's me and us. That's what I told the boys."

Thomas Tuchel was "super happy" with a 1-0 Premier League victory at Liverpool but warned Chelsea can ill afford to "sit back" in the battle for a top-four finish.

Mason Mount scored the only goal of the game as the Blues consigned the champions to a fifth consecutive defeat at Anfield for the first time in their history.

England midfielder Mount's clinical first-half finish extended the London club's run to 10 matches without defeat since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as boss in January and moved them into fourth spot.

Chelsea are four points ahead of seventh-placed Liverpool and on the evidence of their performance on Merseyside, they looked destined to be playing Champions League football next season.

The Reds had only one shot on target and Timo Werner had a first-half goal ruled out for offside in a display that Tuchel savoured.

Tuchel said: "I'm super happy. If I'm honest I still have regrets about the draw against Southampton because I was not happy we dropped two points and the way we dropped them.

"But in general, I'm happy. From the first day I've felt part of the club and it's a pleasure to coach the team. I can feel the energy and attitude that is needed. They are prepared to sacrifice for each other.

"I have never judged games because I am happy for every win, because I know how hard it is to keep on winning and keep clean sheets. So I am very happy because I know what it takes."

Tuchel says Chelsea must maintain their high standards, with a clash against fifth-placed Everton their next assignment on Monday.

"We have been in the top four, after the win against Newcastle," the German added. "So we can't lose focus by looking at the fixtures. All we can do is prepare every match at the highest level because this league doesn't allow you to drop your level.

"There are still 11 games to go, nothing is decided. We are in the race, closed the gap very quickly which is a big effort. Now we're in the middle of the race and we need to keep going.

"But it's the competition in this league, the competition in the Champions League, and the competition in the FA Cup that means we can't sit back."

Jurgen Klopp can't say he didn't have ample notice of Chelsea's tactical intentions against Liverpool.

A teamsheet that showed Olivier Giroud swapped out for Timo Werner at centre-forward provided early notice of the visitors' approach to a crucial game.

Clearly, Thomas Tuchel had looked at a Reds backline that, even with Fabinho restored, would still feature the unconvincing Ozan Kabak and smelled blood.

He had also spotted a weakness in a midfield trio of Georginio Wijnaldum, Thiago Alcantara and Curtis Jones that, despite some decent individual performances of late, has proved itself incapable of pressing well as a unit.

And so he set about exposing a fragile backline with a combination of pace and pressure-free passes from the centre of the park.


The value of this setup almost told early in the first half, only for a farcical offside decision to deny Werner and Chelsea a deserved goal.

But the visitors did get their breakthrough before half-time, working the ball all too easily through a loose opposition midfield before Mason Mount finished well.

Struggling at the back and in the centre, Liverpool were equally unimpressive at the top end of the pitch, clocking up just 0.07xG to Chelsea's 0.65 in the first half.

And when your issues span from front to back in that manner, it all adds up to a team that simply isn't good enough to finish in the top four.

For Liverpool, that represents a sizeable failure worthy of self-reflection that must go further than simply blaming some poor fortune with injuries.

Fortunately for Chelsea, they look increasingly unlikely to be engaged in any such post-season inquest.

The Blues' improvement on the defensive side of the ball told again here and, while there is some way to go in attack, they look to have enough to qualify for the Champions League.

The sheer quality they possess in comparison to the likes of West Ham and Everton makes them favourites for fourth place.

And Leicester City's poor recent form and late-season collapse last time around means a third-placed finish remains a possibility.

Perhaps most importantly, a place in the top four would ensure Tuchel has the funds to continue building on what are strong foundations.

The aim, of course, is to quickly get Chelsea back challenging for the trophies Liverpool won over the course of the last two seasons.

And they certainly look closer to reaching that point than the team they so convincingly dispatched at Anfield.

Mason Mount scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea moved up to fourth in the Premier League by consigning Liverpool to a fifth consecutive home defeat for the first time in their history.

Mount finished superbly in the first half to seal a 1-0 win and extend the Blues' unbeaten run to 10 matches under Thomas Tuchel, who came out on top in the battle of the two former Borussia Dortmund bosses.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds are four points adrift of the London club in seventh place after suffering yet another loss at Anfield, where they are without a win in seven matches.

The struggling champions were toothless and Mohamed Salah was not impressed when he was replaced by the fit-again Diogo Jota as they suffered yet more misery on Merseyside.

Timo Werner rifled into The Kop and wasted a better chance from close range on the half-volley in a lively start from Chelsea following a minute's applause for Liverpool great Ian St John, who died on Monday at the age of 82.

The Germany forward found the back of the net after racing past Reds goalkeeper Alisson - playing for the first since the tragic death of his father - midway through the first half but was adjudged to be marginally offside.

Sadio Mane missed his kick when he had a clear opportunity to put Liverpool in front and it was Chelsea who opened the scoring three minutes before half-time through Mount.

The England midfielder took a pinpoint pass from N'Golo Kante and was allowed to cut inside by Fabinho, starting after recovering from injury, before picking his spot in the far corner of the net from inside the penalty area with a clinical finish.

Kante was relieved when the VAR verdict was no penalty after Roberto Firmino's cross struck the midfielder's arm early in the second half.

Andy Robertson cleared Hakim Ziyech's effort off the line and a disgruntled Salah came off shaking his head 62 minutes in when he was replaced by Jota, making his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in December.

Rock-solid Chelsea comfortably saw out an impressive victory, with Ozan Kabak prevented from scrambling in a late equaliser as the Reds endured another hugely frustrating evening in which they once again lacked a cutting edge.

Fabinho returns from injury to claim a place in Liverpool's starting XI against Chelsea on Thursday. 

A muscle injury has kept the Brazilian sidelined since the home defeat to Manchester City in early February, but he is back at the heart of a defence that also features January signing Ozan Kabak. 

Fabinho is joined in the team by fellow Brazilian Alisson, who missed the weekend win over Sheffield United following the death of his father. 

Liverpool have also received a further boost in the return of Diogo Jota to the squad. 

The Portuguese forward has been out since sustaining a knee injury in mid-December and saw his comeback further delayed by illness on Sunday. 

However, he has the chance to make an impact from the bench against Thomas Tuchel's side at Anfield. 

As for Chelsea, they make three changes to the side that earned a 0-0 draw against Manchester United last time out. 

Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mateo Kovacic and Olivier Giroud make way, with Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner their replacements. 

Ralph Hasenhuttl and Brendan Rodgers have backed Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp's stance on potentially withholding players from upcoming international fixtures.

Premier League players travelling to 'red list' countries during next week's break would be forced to quarantine for 10 days when they return to England, missing games for their clubs as a result.

On Wednesday, Klopp suggested he would not allow that to happen, saying: "The players are paid by the clubs so that means we have to be the first priority. You cannot make everyone happy in this period of our lives.

"I think everybody agrees that we cannot let the players go and come back and quarantine for 10 days in a hotel - that's not how we can do it."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer later agreed with his Reds counterpart, insisting it "didn't make sense" for his players to travel under those conditions.

And they have now been supported in that view by Southampton boss Hasenhuttl who, when asked whether he would also prevent players from leaving, replied: "Absolutely no question for me.

"I mean, you cannot think that I send any player anywhere when he has to quarantine when he's coming back. This is absolutely nonsense. Forget it. Definitely not.

"Because, I mean, there's business travel if you want…why should I send them there?

"Nobody can say that he's coming back at least two weeks out and cannot play for us so this is not possible. Definitely not."

Leicester manager Rodgers, meanwhile, hit out at football's governing bodies over a lack of leadership that has left clubs to make difficult decisions.

"I think the clubs are being told it is going to be an individual case for each club," he said.

"But I think in essence all the clubs will be looking at not wanting to send players, I'm pretty sure, into countries where there is going to be a risk of them coming back and not being able to play and have to go into quarantine in a hotel. 

"I don't think any club will want that for any of the players."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.