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Joe Gomez ready for Liverpool return

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Joe Gomez has handed Liverpool another huge boost in their quest to win the Premier League title.

The England international, 21, has been out since suffering a fracture to his lower left leg during a win at Burnley in December.

Initially, Gomez was only going to be out for a few weeks but complications have since arrived and he has had to have surgery and further treatment to rectify the issue.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Porto on Wednesday (Liverpool have a 2-0 lead from the first leg), Jurgen Klopp revealed Gomez is now available for selection and has travelled with the team to Portugal.

“Absolutely [he looks strong]. Ox and Joe both did really well at Leicester, it was a brilliant game by all of the boys, to be honest, I watched it back. It looked really good,” Klopp said. “It’s clear they still need time to get full match fitness but it’s nice to have them back and now Joe first as an option. He played right full-back, we need him as this option as well. We all know he played a wonderful season at the centre-half position until his injury, but he can play both and it’s good to have him.”

Klopp now has a lot of options in defense, as Joel Matip has stepped in and played pretty well alongside Virgil Van Dijk over the past few months, as losing Gomez for a pivotal stretch of the season was a big concern for Liverpool. Even though Matip has filled in well, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson are clearly Liverpool’s first-choice back four.

With Dejan Lovren out with illness, getting Gomez back is a big deal for Liverpool as the composed center back was developing a superb relationship with VVD in the heart of Liverpool’s defense. However, with only TAA as a right back option and the likes of James Milner having to fill in there at times, it seems likely Gomez will rotate in that full back role in the final weeks of the season rather than disrupt the Matip-VVD partnership.

Mark this down as another big plus for Liverpool in their quest to win the league title for the first time since 1989-90.

In other injury news, Klopp also confirmed that Lovren is out of the game against Porto, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain needs more fitness work, Adam Lallana has returned to training and Jordan Henderson is fit after a slight ankle knock against Chelsea.

All in all, good news for Liverpool as they enter a season-defining 10 days.

PL Sunday Preview: Liverpool host Chelsea; Man City visit Crystal Palace

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In what may be Liverpool’s toughest remaining league match of the season, the Reds host the Blues of Chelsea in an epic matchup between two big six sides. Chelsea will be looking to spoil Liverpool’s title hopes yet again. It was Chelsea and Demba Ba who pounced on Steven Gerrard‘s slip in midfield which led to Liverpool losing the title in 2014.

Liverpool v. Chelsea — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Liverpool took care of business last week early against Porto, and with a 2-0 lead, it may allow manager Jurgen Klopp to focus more of his attention on one of the biggest games of the season against Chelsea. When these teams met earlier in the season, Chelsea recorded a 1-1 draw in the Premier League and a 2-1 win in the League Cup. More than Manchester City, Chelsea may be Liverpool’s bogey team. The Reds haven’t beaten Chelsea in six games, dating back to 2016.

One of Liverpool’s big boosts heading into the match is the return of the marauding Scottish left wing back Andrew Robertson. That should allow James Milner to either return to midfield or take a place on the bench, where he can make a second-half impact with fresh legs. In addition, Joe Gomez is available after a long injury layoff while Adam Lallana is expected to take part as well. But it will be up to the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to break down Chelsea’s backline and secure a massive three points to stay alive for the title.

An interesting little facet of this game is that it will come minutes after the end of Manchester City’s match at Crystal Palace. Liverpool and Chelsea’s players will know if Man City has taken back the lead in the table, or whether Liverpool can extend its lead at the top.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: None | Chelsea — OUT: None

Crystal Palace v. Manchester City — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Before Thursday’s defeat to Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League, Manchester City hadn’t lost a match since a 2-1 loss at Newcastle at the end of January. Now, Pep Guardiola heads back to London for the second time in a week looking to remain in the title hunt.

With Liverpool keeping pace at the top, Man City can’t afford a slip on on the road, but Roy Hodgson and his side will be hoping to pick up at least a point at Selhurst Park. Unsurprisingly, Crystal Palace has struggled against the Big Six sides this season, with the exception a 3-2 win….at Manchester City. Andros Townsend‘s world-class strike helped to prove the difference. Could Crystal Palace secure six points over the title-favorites?

Meanwhile for Man City, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane could inject some freshness back into the squad after sitting out the past couple of games. Also in Man City’s favor, Crystal Palace has lost 12 of its 16 Premier League home games this season. Plus, with a win, Man City goes one point ahead of Liverpool, putting all the pressure on Klopp’s side.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace —  OUT: James Tompkins (groin), Mamadou Sakho (knee) | Manchester City — QUESTIONABLE: Oleksandr Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy

Watch Live: Southampton v. Liverpool

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Southampton host Liverpool on Friday at St Mary’s (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), as Jurgen Klopp‘s men have the chance to go back to the top of the Premier League table.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Klopp knows that a resurgent Saints will be tough to break down, as new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (he and Klopp completed their coaching badges together in Germany) has led Saints to seven victories in his 16 games in charge, but Liverpool are the heavy favorites to move two points clear in the title race with Man City in FA Cup semifinal action this weekend.

Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren are all returning to their former club, and they can expect a hostile atmosphere down on the South Coast given all of the transfer deals between these two teams in recent years.

In team news Saints have had to leave Danny Ings out as he is on loan from Liverpool this season before he makes his move permanent in the summer. Shane Long comes in for him, while Jannik Vestergaard returns to the lineup.

Liverpool make two changes as Naby Keita and Fabinho come in to the midfield.


LINEUPS

Watch Live: Fulham v. Liverpool

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Liverpool can go atop the Premier League table with a defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday (Watch live at 10:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

And Cottagers interim boss Scott Parker will be cognizant of Liverpool’s plan to exploit his leaky defense to reduce Man City’s 7-goal advantage in differential.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Fulham’s razor-thin chances of making up a 13-point deficit on 17th place need an unlikely result here, and likely a win.

Jordan Henderson and James Milner are out of the lineup that beat Bayern Munich 3-1 on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League, with Fabinho and Adam Lallana taking their places in the XI.

LINEUPS

Fulham: Rico, Fosu-Mensah, Chambers, Ream, Bryan, Seri, Cairney, Zambo Anguissa, Ayite, Mitrovic, Babel. Subs: Fabri, Christie, Odoi, McDonald, Sessegnon, Kebano, Vietto.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Lallana, Salah, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Milner, Sturridge, Moreno, Shaqiri, Origi.

Klopp defiant after Liverpool win: “Nobody gets rid of us”

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“Nobody gets rid of us.”

Jurgen Klopp is sounding a defiant tone after Liverpool topped Burnley 4-2 on Sunday to move back within a point of leaders Manchester City.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

The Reds’ seven-point table lead may be gone, but they aren’t quitting the fight for their first Premier League era top flight title.

Liverpool went down 1-0 when Alisson Becker was stopped from leaping for an Ashley Westwood corner kick, but the Reds responded with vigor.

Two goals each for Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino arrived in a comfortable win, made uncomfortable for a mere minute in stoppage time.

“We played our game,” Klopp said. “The first Burnley goal was maybe a little bit of the wind. In most countries it would not be allowed that goal. You cannot treat the goalie like that in the six-yard box.”

Klopp also had a lot of praise for Adam Lallana, who he branded the best player on the pitch. Lallana’s 77 minutes account for his second-longest appearance of the season.