Pep Guardiola expressed disappointment with Jurgen Klopp's attempt at pre-match mind games after the Liverpool manager falsely claimed Manchester City had "a two-week break for COVID reasons".

Champions Liverpool host Premier League leaders City on Sunday, where Guardiola's men have the chance to go 10 points clear of Klopp's side with a game in hand if they can claim a first win at Anfield since 2003.

Both men addressed the media on Friday, with Klopp speaking first and suggesting a coronavirus outbreak within the City squad between Christmas and new year actually helped their title bid.

Asked about Guardiola's recently repeated mantra that his team - currently on a 20-match unbeaten run across all competitions - are playing better because they have managed to "run less" in possession, Klopp focused his attention upon the spike in infections that saw City's scheduled December 28 trip to Everton postponed.

"The more you keep the ball, the less you have to run, probably. We didn't have a break," he said.

"I think City had a two-week break for COVID reasons. It's really tough. It's a tough year, season; for some teams, it looks like lesser but, for us, for the reasons you know, it's tough."

In reality, City had a seven-day break between their 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day and a January 3 trip to Chelsea, where a squad heavily depleted by a raft of players being forced to self-isolate secured an impressive 3-1 win.

Having started his own briefing later than scheduled, Guardiola opted to respond initially with heavy sarcasm.

"He made a mistake, it was two months off or three months off. Four months we had off. That is why we are in top form right now," he said.

"Jurgen has to see the calendar again. We had COVID, we had one week and we played with 14 players at Stamford Bridge, Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it was three or four weeks.

"Tomorrow when I see Jurgen I'll say to him, 'How many weeks or days were we off?'"

Guardiola famously endured a tempestuous back and fourth with Jose Mourinho when the pair were in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid a decade ago - an affair he was perhaps referencing when stating he held Klopp, whom he also competed against in the Bundesliga, to higher standards.

"I'm surprised," he said. "I thought Jurgen was not that type of manager like other ones [for whom] it is usual to do it. I didn't expect that comment. From him, I didn't expect it.

"He knows it’s not true, come on! Nobody in the Premier League has had two weeks off, everyone knows. In some situation you do it [mind games] for a purpose, but I did not expect he will do it."

Liverpool have lost their past two home games 1-0 to Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion.

Nevertheless, Anfield remains something of a final frontier for Guardiola as City boss, having lost four and drawn one of his five visits to the red side of Stanley Park.

"They are always an incredibly tough team and remain a tough squad," he said.

"They know the process, the skills, the routines and methodology they do offensively. No change.

"They are aggressive and will be more aggressive than ever, I'm pretty sure. They'll rest really well after the game against Brighton and they'll recover in these two weeks off and they will be ready."

City remain without Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring), Nathan Ake (muscular) and Sergio Aguero, who has endured a prolonged absence after testing positive for coronavirus. He is expected to return in a few weeks.

Jurgen Klopp is "not surprised at all" by Ilkay Gundogan's outstanding form for Manchester City, describing the midfielder as "one of the best players I ever coached".

Gundogan is enjoying the best scoring season of his league career, netting seven times to help City climb to the top of the Premier League.

Robbed of Sergio Aguero for an extended period and now also without Kevin De Bruyne, Pep Guardiola has handed additional attacking responsibilities to the Germany international, who is thriving.

Gundogan, a 2016 signing from Borussia Dortmund, has nine goals in all competitions this term at a rate of 0.5 per 90 minutes, his best performance in a City shirt.

Yet Gundogan continues to create for his team-mates, too, supplying a pair of assists and creating 1.8 chances per 90, trailing only his numbers for the 2018-19 season.

At Dortmund, where he played for several years under Klopp, Gundogan neither scored nor created at this rate across any single season, his highest return in terms of goal involvements the three goals and six assists in his final campaign.

Even as the 30-year-old outperforms his younger self, though, this is a standard Klopp expected Gundogan to set once he stayed fit for an extended period.

"Not at all [surprised] - the goalscoring maybe a little bit, the rest not," Klopp said ahead of facing City on Sunday "Ilkay was one of the best players I ever coached.

"He was a very young player when he came to us from Nurnberg to Dortmund. Especially in the 2012 season, he was unbelievable and played pretty much like he is playing now.

"Then he had, unfortunately, some injuries, really tough injuries, but that's now all sorted.

"It's the longest period he can play football without getting interrupted and I wish him really well that he can continue like this.

"That's the only reason. He was always that player.

"When you are smart and experience comes into play as well, then it's another jump in your performance level, and I'm not surprised at all."

Klopp was less interested in discussing the merits of Ruben Dias, a player he has never worked with but who has drawn comparisons with injured Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.

Dias debuted after the first two matches of the season, one of which City lost 5-2 at home to Leicester City, but has since formed part of a defence conceding 0.4 goals per game.

Klopp acknowledged Dias represented "good business" yet could not comment on an opponent he does not know personally.

Referring to Liverpool's defensive injury crisis, Klopp said: "That's a really harsh one. You talk about a centre-half... that's not nice.

"He had an impact, he's a good player, but City's a good team, to be honest, a really good team. They were always.

"It's good business, absolutely. Do I compare it with Virgil? You can compare him with Virgil; I don't know him good enough.

"Virgil is an outstanding football player, but I know him as a person, and the package makes for me the difference. I don't know anything about Ruben Dias. I'm sure he's a nice fellow, but I don't know it."

Jurgen Klopp was bemused to be asked about Liverpool's Premier League title hopes ahead of their clash with Manchester City.

The Reds won the championship last season but sit fourth heading into the weekend, seven points behind leaders City having played a game more.

And City head to Anfield in top form, having won 13 consecutive matches in all competitions - one short of the all-time record for a top-flight English side.

Andy Robertson acknowledged after Liverpool's midweek loss to Brighton and Hove Albion that they were not in a title race "at this moment", an assessment Klopp agrees with, even if he continues to be questioned on their end-of-season hopes.

The manager told a news conference on Friday: "After two years now of getting this question all the time, when we were close enough that it might make some sense...

"I just don't see it in the moment. You have to win football games. If you do that often enough then there's a specific moment in the season when it's clear: okay, now we go for it.

"We were in the last two years in that situation, now we are not.

"So why should we think about it? What we have to think about is collecting enough points that it might happen in April, May again. But I don't know yet, so why should we think about it?

"We only think about it because we get asked, but it's not what drives you, it's not what gets you up in the morning or drives us through the day, being so close to City or whoever is top of the table.

"We really try hard in a very, very tricky season. We will try and continue trying, Sunday and the next time."

Klopp will have new signing Ozan Kabak available after he received international clearance, while goalkeeper Alisson - ill against Brighton - is "much better" and injured pair Fabinho and Sadio Mane were set to join at least part of training on Friday.

The Brighton match saw a second consecutive 1-0 home league defeat inflicted, after a loss to Burnley ended a 68-match unbeaten run at Anfield in the top flight.

Not since 1963 have Liverpool lost three straight home league matches, while they have never gone four without scoring - they also drew a blank in the draw with Manchester United before hosting Burnley.

Klopp insisted he did not need to remind his squad of the inspiring surrounds of Liverpool's home stadium, although he would not divulge details of his team talk regardless.

"It's not that I say now, 'Boys, come on'. Everybody knows it's Anfield," he said. "We love playing there still; it's a great place, the best place you can imagine.

"It's all good, but we didn't win the last two games. But we weren't interested in the 68 in a row, so why should we now make the two games we didn't win bigger than it is?

"I don't think I could sit here when we lost 68 in a row - that would be a real sensation.

"It's all about trying again, about being positive, enjoying football, all these kind of things, and make it a fortress again. That's how it is.

"It will not happen in a press conference with what I say here. I'm not 10 per cent in the mood to speak about anything I would say to my players.

"When I'm with them, I'm 100 per cent. Here is still like paid holiday. I cannot win the game here, I cannot lose the game here, all I have to do is answer questions. That's what I do, but not about what I tell my players."

Is Erling Haaland's future becoming clearer?

Haaland's exploits for Borussia Dortmund have attracted interest from far and wide.

But Manchester City appear to be the frontrunners for his signature…

 

TOP STORY – CITY LINING UP BIG HAALAND BID

Manchester City are confident of landing Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland in a £100million (€114m) deal, according to the front page of Friday's Mirror.

Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in Europe, having been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus.

But City believe winning this season's Premier League will help them sign Haaland at the end of the campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal claims Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi will wait until season's end before deciding his future. Messi has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and City on a free transfer.

Sergio Aguero is tempted by a move to Barca if Messi remains at Camp Nou, reports Cadena Ser. Like Messi, City forward Aguero is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21.

- Defensa Central says Chelsea are interested in re-signing Eden Hazard, but at a huge discount. Hazard has struggled for form and fitness since leaving Chelsea for Madrid in a big-money move in 2019.

Milan will miss out on signing Ajax teenager Brian Brobbey as he is set to join RB Leipzig, according to Calciomercato and widespread reports in Italy. But Milan are close to signing Marseille's soon-to-be free agent Florian Thauvin.

- Calciomercato claims Madrid have put veteran full-back Marcelo up for sale amid links to Juventus.

Liverpool must wave goodbye to any lingering Premier League title hopes if they cannot beat Manchester City on Sunday, according to Reds great Jamie Carragher.

A slump in form from Jurgen Klopp's injury-hit team has seen last season's champions fall seven points behind leaders City, who have a game in hand.

The Anfield clash could yet turn around Liverpool's season if they can rouse themselves back to last season's high standards.

But Carragher is taking a pragmatic view of the title picture, suggesting Liverpool need to stabilise and make sure of a top-four finish.

His verdict follows Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson saying the champions, who sit fourth, are not currently in title contention after Wednesday's 1-0 home loss to Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Liverpool have to be looking at the top four positions, and to say the obvious, take each game as it comes because the form is so down," Carragher said.

"There are so many changes to the team that you are never quite sure what it's going to be. Alisson was out at the last minute against Brighton and Liverpool are still waiting for players to come back.

"So, I think from now, if you were to offer Liverpool a top-four finish they would take that and shake on it. That should be the mindset for Liverpool because that is what they are aiming for at the moment.

"If they could get back into the title race – and, to do that, they would have to beat City on Sunday – you could maybe see where they are with seven or eight games to go. Hopefully from Liverpool's perspective, City could have some sort of drop."

Liverpool have suffered without Virgil van Dijk, their defensive leader who has been absent since sustaining a knee injury in the derby with Everton on October 17. He is not expected to play again this season.

From the beginning of last season through to that Merseyside derby this term, Van Dijk was ever-present in the league and Liverpool racked up an average of 2.5 points in each match, winning 81.4 per cent of games to end a 30-year wait for an English league title.

But since that Everton draw, the points return has fallen to 1.8 per Premier League game, with the win rate tumbling to 47.1 per cent.

Carragher, who was speaking to Sky Sports' Pitch to Post podcast, described City's form as "out of this world" after Pep Guardiola's men racked up a 13th straight win across all competitions when beating Burnley 2-0 on Wednesday.

That is the longest winning run by a Premier League side since Arsenal also put 13 together in a row between March and August 2002.

But Carragher stressed: "It's impossible to keep that going, City cannot win every single game so I would expect them to drop points at some stage.

"But the problem for Liverpool is that the gap is too big – and it certainly will be if they fail to win at Anfield."

Liverpool will not be allowed to travel to Germany for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig, government officials have said. 

The Reds are scheduled to face the Bundesliga side at the Red Bull Arena on February 16 at the start of the knockout stages in the competition. 

However, restrictions have been imposed in Germany since Saturday on entry for all arrivals from areas affected by COVID-19 mutations until at least February 17. 

Exceptions are in place for German citizens or residents but will not be extended for elite sports. 

"The Corona Protection Ordinance passed by the German government last Friday provides for only a few exceptions and no special regulations for professional athletes," read a widely released statement from the German government. 

"The Federal Police informed the club RB Leipzig today that the described case does not fall under the exceptions." 

Rules were put in place by UEFA allowing last-16 ties to be switched, so Anfield could yet theoretically host the opening contest. The game could also be held at a neutral venue, with the possibility open for the tie to be reduced to a single fixture.

When contacted by Stats Perform News, European football's governing body said it remains in dialogue with both clubs and also the German Football Association, who in turn are in contact with the German government. 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Diogo Jota was still weeks away from a return, but Sadio Mane could face Manchester City.

The Reds' chances of defending their Premier League title were dealt a huge blow with a surprise 1-0 loss at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

Jota has been sidelined since December with a knee injury, while Mane has missed Liverpool's past two games with a muscle injury.

After the loss to Brighton, Klopp had some mixed news regarding the pair.

"Diogo is – I don't know exactly – a couple of weeks, two, three, four. I'm not sure," he told a news conference.

"And Sadio we will see. He might be available for the weekend, I don't know. He didn't train with the team today. We will see."

Ahead of hosting City on Sunday, Liverpool are seven points adrift of Pep Guardiola's men, who also have a game in hand.

Andy Robertson said Liverpool are not in the Premier League title race "at this moment" after they suffered a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Steven Alzate's first Premier League goal in the second half further eased the in-form Seagulls' relegation fears on Wednesday.

Brighton's first win over Liverpool since January 1984 left the champions seven points behind leaders Manchester City, who also have a game in hand ahead of their trip to Anfield on Sunday.

The lacklustre Reds had only one shot on target and have failed to score in three consecutive home league games for the first time since October 1984, when Joe Fagan was in charge.

Jurgen Klopp's side have also suffered back-to-back home defeats, having also been beaten 1-0 by Burnley, after going 68 unbeaten at Anfield in the Premier League.

Left-back Robertson admitted well-drilled Brighton deserved all three points and knows Liverpool must respond when they face City this weekend.

He told BT Sport: "The better team won. Brighton were better at pretty much everything. They pressed us, won the ball back and created chances.

"First half was okay, it was a nothing game and you got the sense that one goal was going to be enough to win it. In the last three games at home we have been really disappointing and we have to get back to it, we are a long way off it.

"Brighton played four centre-backs and they were all outstanding but we have been disappointing. We are not finding the way to win."

Robertson added: "We were hugely disappointing all over the park. You have to give the team credit for playing well. They created chances, pressed us – did everything we wanted to do.

“We didn't really do anything of note. With a long record of going unbeaten we've lost two. When you don't show up you don't get results.

"We prepare for every game different. It's just not clicking. We need to find a way to get results, especially at home. You can do everything in training.

"Any game against Man City is a big one. At this moment, we're not in the title race. We are seven points behind them and they have a game in hand.

"I'm sure they'd say the same if they were potentially 10 points behind. We need to get back to the Liverpool everyone knows. We're still a good team. We don't turn into a bad team overnight."

Liverpool were stunned by Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield as they lost for the second home Premier League game in a row, while Manchester City stretched their winning streak at Burnley.

Having seen their 68-game unbeaten home league run ended by Burnley two weeks ago, the champions again came unstuck against an improving Brighton side.

Liverpool's next opponents are leaders City, who had less trouble seeing off Burnley as they made it 13 victories in a row in all competitions - the longest such run by a Premier League side since Arsenal between March and August 2002 (also 13).

There were also victories for Leicester City, Everton and West Ham on Wednesday, overcoming Fulham, Leeds United and Aston Villa respectively.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts on a day in which history was made as all five away sides triumphed.

Burnley 0-2 Manchester City: Jesus and Sterling keep winning run going

Twenty-four hours on from Manchester United's record-equalling 9-0 win against Southampton, City regained a three-point lead at the summit with a game in hand thanks to a routine victory at Turf Moor.

Gabriel Jesus scored for the third game in a row that he has started to give City an early lead and Raheem Sterling marked his recall to the starting line-up with his 99th goal under Pep Guardiola in all competitions.

Burnley offered little in response as they failed to register a single shot on target for the second game running, making them the first Premier League side to do so since Everton in January 2018.

It meant for a quiet day for City's defenders as they kept a sixth straight shutout in the competition - their joint-longest run without conceding - in what was a 12th successive victory in games played on a Wednesday, which is a Premier League record.

Burnley will be glad to see the back of City for another season having now lost to them by an aggregate 10-0 scoreline across their three meetings in all competitions this season, the other defeat coming in the EFL Cup.

Fulham 0-2 Leicester City: Maddison inspires Foxes to another away win

Kelechi Iheanacho's first Premier League goal in 15 appearances and a second strike of the season for James Justin earned Leicester all three points at Fulham.

James Maddison set up Iheanacho and Justin to take his goal involvement to 12 - six goals and as many assists - in his last 12 outings in all competitions, with this the first occasion he has laid on more than one goal in a Premier League match.

Leicester have now collected 26 points on their travels this season, which is already their second-highest tally in a campaign after their 2015-16 title success (39 points).

As for Fulham, they have now gone 11 games without a win in the Premier League and have lost their opening four home games of a calendar year in all competitions for the first time in their English Football League history.

Leeds United 1-2 Everton: Toffees earn rare Elland Road triumph

Everton made it four consecutive away league victories for the first time since December 1985 through first-half goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

This may just be the sweetest victory of the lot during that run, given it is only their second at Elland Road in the top flight in 38 attempts - the most recent before today coming in 2002.

It is the fifth home league match Leeds have lost in 10 games this term - the last time a Marcelo Bielsa side lost more at home in the league in a single season was Athletic Bilbao in the 2012-13 LaLiga campaign.

Sigurdsson put Everton on their way with another goal assisted by Lucas Digne - the sixth he has set up in the Premier League this season, which is the most by any defender. 

Only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 28) have registered more than Digne's 17 assists since the start of the 2018-19 season.

Calvert-Lewin doubled his side's tally with his ninth headed goal in the Premier League since the start of last season - only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski (12) has scored more in Europe's top five leagues over that period.

Aston Villa 1-3 West Ham: Lingard at the double on Hammers bow

Jesse Lingard marked his first appearance for West Ham since joining on loan from Manchester United with a couple of goals against Aston Villa.

The England international is only the second player for the club to achieve that two-goal debut feat after Trevor Sinclair against Everton in January 1998.

Lingard's double came after Tomas Soucek had given West Ham the lead with his eighth league goal of the season - the most of any midfielder when excluding penalties.

Ollie Watkins gave Villa temporary hope at 2-0 but the home side could not avoid a fourth defeat in their last six league matches, compared to only four losses in their opening 14.

David Moyes has plenty of reasons to be cheerful, having overseen three successive away wins in the competition for the first time since April 2014 when at Man United, with this latest victory taking West Ham to 38 points - their highest top-flight tally after 22 games since 1985-86.

Liverpool 0-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Alzate stuns stuns toothless champions

Liverpool's home struggles continued with defeat to Brighton, who picked up a victory in this fixture for the first time in 13 meetings in all competitions - and a first at Anfield since 1982.

The Merseyside club having now lost consecutive games at Anfield in the top flight for the first time since September 2012, having gone 68 without a home loss in the Premier League.

It is four Premier League games at Anfield without a win, meanwhile, the last three of those without scoring - the first time that has happened since October 1984 - in a goalless run spanning 348 minutes and counting.

Steven Alzate was the match-winning hero for Brighton with his first Premier League goal in his 28th appearance, coming from the first shot on target of the contest. 

Toothless Liverpool offered little in reply, testing opposition keeper Robert Sanchez just once as Brighton made it four top-flight clean sheets on the bounce for the first time in their history.

Jurgen Klopp believes his Liverpool side are mentally fatigued after a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion dealt another blow to their Premier League title hopes.

The champions had only one shot on target as they suffered back-to-back losses at Anfield, where they have not scored in three consecutive league matches for the first time since 1984.

Manchester City will travel to Merseyside for a huge clash on Sunday leading the Reds by seven points and they also have a game in hand. 

Klopp said well-drilled Brighton deserved a surprise victory that further eased their relegation fears and feels the injury-hit Reds, who were also without goalkeeper Alisson due to illness, are feeling the strain of a demanding schedule.

"We played against really good opposition, that's clear," the Liverpool boss told BT Sport.

"We looked mentally not fresh. They deserved to win. We wanted to play better and more convincing. We lost too many balls in promising situations. I know the boys can play pass A to B but today B did not seem reachable.

"We had a really tough week. Brighton is a football-playing team. We were not fresh tonight and that's when you have to find a way. Each player can play better than they did tonight. I know them, it's not because they didn't want to. Something else must be the reason."

The German added: "You saw what went wrong, it's more about why? The only explanation now is that we are a fatigued team, mentally more or less.

"That leads to not the maximum freshness in your legs. Brighton deserved to win, they played well, they did well.

"We had our moments but they deserved to win. They are a good football side. We had to defend with a lot of running, there is no formation in the world where you are always in the right place.

"The best way to defend against a team like that is to keep the ball yourself but we couldn't do it tonight.

"The only thing we can do is use the things that happen and learn from them. The solution is always the players. It has been a tough week and tonight it was not enough. City are flying and we have to find solutions."

Steven Alzate's first Premier League goal dealt another blow to Liverpool's title defence as Brighton and Hove Albion eased their relegation fears with a stunning 1-0 win at Anfield. 

Liverpool had seemingly got back on track with successive away wins in London, but a second-half strike from Alzate gave Brighton a first victory over the Reds since January 1984. 

The toothless champions ran out of ideas as the well-organised Seagulls left Jurgen Klopp's side without a goal in three home games and seven points behind leaders Manchester City - who they play on Sunday. 

Burnley ended Liverpool's 68-match unbeaten home record in the top flight a fortnight ago and they have now lost two in a row at home in the league for the first time since September 2012. 

Mohamed Salah wasted an early chance to put the Reds in front when he lobbed over the crossbar after Jordan Henderson picked him out with an incisive pass. 

Lacklustre Liverpool could not find a way through a well-drilled defence and Dan Burn spurned a glorious opportunity to put Brighton in front, scooping into the Kop after Neal Maupay showed great composure in the penalty area. 

Solly March was also off target with a curling effort, with Brighton not resembling a side battling to avoid the drop in a drab first half. 

The champions posed much more of a threat after the break but they were stunned when Alzate opened the scoring with the first shot on target in the match after 56 minutes. Burn made amends for his earlier miss by heading a deep cross into the path of Alzate, who converted from eight yards out. 

Brighton lost March to injury before Salah missed a good chance to equalise after Klopp had introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi, with Liverpool's frustration mounting. 

Caoimhin Kelleher, in for the unwell Allison, prevented Pascal Gross from doubling the lead with a fine save and then also denied Leandro Trossard with a sharp stop, though one goal was enough for the visitors in the end.

Alisson was a notable absentee from Liverpool's squad for Wednesday's Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion due to illness. 

The Brazil international has started 18 of the reigning champions' 21 top-flight games this term, keeping five clean sheets. 

However, he will play no part against Brighton at Anfield, a game which comes four days before the Reds face league leaders Manchester City. 

Caoimhin Kelleher, who had featured just once previously for Liverpool in the Premier League, was drafted in as his replacement. 

Liverpool triumphed in just one of the three previous league games Alisson missed, conceding an average of three goals against in those matches.

That compares to an average of 0.8 goals against in the 18 games Alisson has started, of which the Reds have won 10, drawn six and lost two. 

The only other change made by Jurgen Klopp from the 3-1 win over West Ham at the weekend was up top, Roberto Firmino coming in for Divock Origi. 

Ben Davies, signed from Preston North End on deadline day, was named among the substitutes, though fellow new defender Ozan Kabak was not included in the matchday squad. 

Liverpool are unbeaten in their past 12 meetings with Brighton in all competitions, winning 10 and drawing two in a run stretching back to 1984.

Ozan Kabak believes he will fit into Liverpool's style well after joining the club from Schalke.

The Turkey defender joined the Premier League champions on loan, with an option to buy, on Monday as the injury-hit Reds also added Ben Davies.

Kabak, 20, feels he will be well suited to playing for Liverpool, who are third in the Premier League ahead of hosting Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

"Yes, of course. First of all, Liverpool play offensive football and press high; sometimes they leave some space in the back so I think Liverpool centre-backs need to be fast, so I think I suit it in this way," he told LFC TV.

"Also, they like to play and build the game, so you need to have good feet to build up the game. So I think I suit Liverpool very well."

Kabak said he grew up dreaming of one day playing for the Premier League giants.

"Liverpool was my childhood team. So I always wanted to come to this club, to play at this amazing stadium, in front of these amazing fans," he said.

"It's a dream for me. Now the dream comes true."

Pep Guardiola claims Ruben Dias has become "undroppable" amid comparisons between the Manchester City centre-back and Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk.

Dias joined City from Benfica last September for a club record fee of £62million.

He arrived in the aftermath of a chastening 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester City, when Guardiola's men looked a far cry from the team who head into Wednesday's match at Burnley on top of the table and aiming to extend a 12-match winning run across all competitions.

The Portugal centre-back has been a key figure in the turnaround and Guardiola was asked whether his impact at the Etihad Stadium has been similar to the galvanising effect Van Dijk had at Anfield upon his January 2018 arrival.

Although the City manager shunned the chance to make a direct comparison, he left no doubt that Dias is one of the most important signings of his four and a half years in Manchester.

"Yeah, absolutely, absolutely," Guardiola said. "He settled immediately. In terms of mentality he's a guy who lives 24 hours for his profession.

"Every step he does, at home, on or off the pitch, eating, sleeping, recovery time, preparation time - everything is to be perfect during [the next] 95-minute football game.

"That's why [he has had an impact]. It depends on him to maintain [his form] and hopefully we can help him to grow. We are more than satisfied."

Van Dijk proved a crucial piece in the puzzle for Jurgen Klopp, transforming his Liverpool from a thrilling but inconsistent side into a winning machine that lifted the 2018-19 Champions League and 2019-20 Premier League.

Comparisons between him and Dias are set to persist when City travel to Merseyside this weekend, even though Van Dijk remains sidelined following knee ligament surgery.

Before the midweek match at Turf Moor, Dias has played 18 Premier League games, winning 12 and helming 11 clean sheets amid seven goals conceded.

During Van Dijk's first 18 top-flight matches, Liverpool won 11, conceded 11 and kept 10 clean sheets.

Like his Dutch counterpart, Dias' leadership qualities mean he has caught the eye beyond impressive raw statistics.

"He’s not just a player who plays good, he's a player who makes the other guys play good too," Guardiola said.

"It’s 90 minutes talking, 90 minutes communicating, 90 minutes saying what they have to do in every single action.

"When that happens, it's difficult for me [to pick anyone else] and [Dias becomes] undroppable."

It has been far from a one-man act, however, with City's form truly gathering pace since John Stones was paired with Dias at the heart of defence.

In 10 Premier League games together, Stones and Dias have combined for a remarkable nine clean sheets and conceded once - Callum Hudson-Odoi's late consolation in City's 3-1 win at Chelsea last month.

Without the Stones-Dias partnership, City have won four, drawn four and lost two in the league this term, conceding 12 - the same amount of goals they scored in those games.

Stones was Guardiola's first major defensive signing at City back in 2016 but his days in east Manchester appeared to be numbered as he struggled for form and fitness amid personal problems last season.

The Stones turnaround has been as stunning as it was unexpected and Guardiola insists all the credit should lie with the former Everton man.

"What I want from my players - all of them, not just John - is to be happy," Guardiola said. "He struggled to be happy here - especially with injuries, some personal problems, for many reasons, a lack of minutes. I didn't see him like he is right now.

"In the past he was not like he is now, with the stability, the mentality, happiness, commitment, focusing and everything. That's why I give a lot of credit to him. He overcame this situation himself.

"He could have fallen down and gone even more down, but it was completely the opposite. He said 'no, I'm here, I know how good I am'. He didn't need my confidence, he didn't need the words.

"He said, 'I know who I am, I know I'm a top central defender and guys, I'm coming to show you, the whole of England, the whole Premier League and the whole of the world that I'm good'. This is the only way."

Harry Kane paid tribute to "inspirational" Captain Tom Moore after the former British Army officer died at the age of 100.

England skipper Kane was joined by manager Gareth Southgate in remembering the impact the veteran made on the country during the coronavirus crisis.

Southgate said the man who became affectionately known as Captain Tom had "demonstrated the very best of England".

In a fundraising effort, when he was 99 years old, he raised close to £33million for NHS charities by walking 100 laps of his garden.

Kane wrote on Twitter: "Very sad to hear this news as he was an inspirational man who did so much for others. My thoughts are with his family and friends."

Captain Moore was made an honorary colonel to mark his 100th birthday, which was honoured with a Royal Air Force flypast, and he was later knighted by the Queen.

He died in Bedford Hospital with COVID-19 after being admitted on Sunday, having previously been ill with pneumonia.

Southgate said: "Captain Sir Tom Moore demonstrated the very best of England during an extremely difficult time for the nation.

"It is no exaggeration to say he helped bring the country together in a way that few ever could, and he leaves a legacy that will never be forgotten.

"I was especially struck by his dedication to going above and beyond with his personal challenge, his relentless positivity and his good humour."

In a statement issued by the Football Association, Southgate added: "It was a wonderful moment to see him chosen to lead England's Lionhearts squad celebrating 23 individuals who had done so much to help others this past year – one of many deserved honours that came his way.

"He will be missed, but we will remember him."

Premier League champions Liverpool used the words of their famous club anthem to pay tribute, declaring: "An inspiration and a true hero. You'll Never Walk Alone."

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