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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: Spurs at Anfield; Chelsea visit Cardiff

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Liverpool have two major tests — both at home — remaining in the Premier League title race, beginning with a fellow top-three side on Sunday. Elsewhere, Chelsea are clinging to top-four dreams, while Cardiff City just want to stay in the PL…

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League? (video) ]

Cardiff City v. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and

From one of three PL title chasers early in the season, to quickly falling away from the top-four race, it’s been a season mostly to forget for Chelsea. Sunday’s visit to Cardiff sees Maurizio Sarri‘s side in full-on desperation mode in their bid to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Now sitting in sixth place, four points back of red-hot Manchester United in fourth, the Blues’ best path into Europe’s premier competition might just be through the Europa League where they’ll face Slavia Praha in the quarterfinals next week.

It’ll be a tricky trip to south Wales, though, as Cardiff currently sit 18th in the table, five points adrift of safety, desperate for their PL lives. Their advantage, however, is the two games they now have in hand. Only once this season, in early February, have the Bluebirds won back-to-back league games. After beating West Ham United before the recently completed international break, Sunday would be the best possible time to replicate that feat and move to within two points of 17th-place Burnley.

INJURIES: Cardiff —  OUT: Callum Patterson (ankle), Souleymane Bamba (knee) | Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back)

Liverpool v. Tottenham Hotspur — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and

Liverpool’s pursuit of the PL title resumes on Sunday, when third-place Tottenham visits Anfield in a virtual must-win game for the Reds. Given that Jurgen Klopp‘s side will have played one game more than leaders Manchester City by Sunday’s end, anything short of three points could prove the final nail in the coffin. As far as random stoppages in the middle of the season go, the recent international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Liverpool, who in the two weeks since they last played have seen Trent Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri return to full fitness following minor injuries. On the not-so-fortunate side of injury news, Naby Keita reportedly suffered an injury this week in training and will miss Sunday’s game.

Likewise, Spurs couldn’t have been happier to break from a particularly tough stretch of results (winless in four games, including three defeats) which has seen their hold on a Champions League place hacked down from 10 points to one. On top of that, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is so nearly fully fit after being down to a bare-bones crew for much of the season, though Eric Dier picked up an(other) injury while on England duty. On the plus side, Harry Kane appears likely to score a goal every time he takes the field after bagging at least one in each of his last five games (for Spurs and England), not to mention the fact he’s scored three in his four career appearances at Anfield.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Trent Alexander-Arnold (back), Naby Keita (ankle) | Spurs — OUT: Harry Winks (hip)

Klopp: Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain coming along well

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Liverpool’s Premier League title push is getting reinforcements.

Joe Gomez is back in training for Jurgen Klopp‘s men, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is close to heading back to training following a setback due to soreness.

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Gomez has played a little over 1000 Premier League minutes this year, a further 400 coming in the Champions League. The Reds have only lost three of his starts, all in the UCL, and only scored one goal in those contests.

As for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he will fill an underserved need for Liverpool as a playmaking midfielder.

“I spoke to him a second ago; Ox is positive, we are all positive,” Klopp said. “It was a little setback, it was not more, but it was a setback. That’s how it is.”

Klopp said Mohamed Salah has benefited from the break afforded by skipping Egypt matches to rest.

“Now let’s go.”

PL Sunday preview: Liverpool in chase mode; Arsenal v. Man Utd

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By the time Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures is complete, nearly all 20 clubs will have played 30 games in the 2018-19 season, signaling the official start of the run-in.

[ MORE: What did we learn on a wild PL Saturday? (video) ]

From the title, to the top-four, to the relegation battle, there’s still so much left to play for…

Liverpool v. Burnley — 8 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and

From runaway PL title leaders and favorites, to staring a four-point deficit — with a game in hand, albeit — square in the face, the last two months have been anything but ideal for Liverpool. It’s not as if Jurgen Klopp‘s side has cratered and even lost a single game, so much as Manchester City have regained their brilliant, historic form of last season (three points dropped from their last 11 games) and managed to capitalize on the Reds drawing four of their last six. When 17th-place Burnley visit Anfield on Sunday, Klopp and Co., will have their hands full against increasingly desperate opponents who now sit just two points and one place clear of the relegation zone. There can be no looking ahead to Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash with Bayern Munich (0-0 after the Reds’ home leg).

As for the Clarets, Sean Dyche‘s side was the very definition of up-and-down since mid-January: three draws, followed by two wins, followed by two losses most recently. Prior to starting their potentially season-saving run just before the start of 2019, Burnley sat 19th in the PL table. After winning three straight to start the new year and eventually extending their run to eight games unbeaten (five wins), they had risen as high as 14th. Back-to-back defeats to fellow relegation battlers Newcastle United and Crystal Palace have since dropped them back into perilous danger as they head northwest to take on one of the Europe’s most prolific, irresistible sides on Sunday.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: Joe Gomez (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Dejan Lovren (hamstring) | Burnley — OUT: Aaron Lennon (knee), Steven Defour (calf), Jonathan Walters (achilles)

Chelsea v. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 10:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and

Maurizio Sarri‘s debut season in the PL has been one he, and many Chelsea fans alike, would like to forget. And yet, it’s the sixth-place Blues — of the three teams currently jockeying for fourth place — who control their own destiny, due to having a game in hand and trailing the Champions League places by just two points. Sunday’s opponent, sixth-place Wolves, will be anything but a pushover, which they demonstrated the first time these sides met this season: Wolves 2-1 Chelsea, in December.

Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota inspired Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side to the comeback victory at Molineux Stadium, and the prolific duo (17 goals and nine assists between them this PL campaign) will be desperate to complete the unlikely double over such a giant in their first top-flight season in eight years. Against all odds, it’s Wolves who have lost just once in their last seven league games (four wins), and the Blues who have lost three of their last six (three wins) and suffered a frustrating slide down the table. With a six-point advantage over 11th-place Everton, and Sunday’s game in hand, Wolves are merely a handful of results away from mathematically securing a top-half finish with plenty of the season still to run.

INJURIES: Chelsea —  OUT: None | Wolves — OUT: Ryan Bennett (suspension)

Arsenal v. Manchester United — 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and

The leading contestants for a top-four finish are set to face off in a titanic clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with the added bonus of making a real push to catch and surpass a Tottenham Hotspur side suddenly spiraling out of control. Man United moved to within three points of Tottenham with their comeback victory over Southampton last weekend, only for those very Saints to do the Red Devils a massive favor on the back end: handing Spurs their third loss in four games.

Three points won’t come easy on Sunday, however, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side was pushed to its limits in the Champions League on Wednesday, only securing their passage to the quarterfinals in the 93rd minute against Paris Saint-Germain. Further complicating matters, United find themselves in the midst of something of an injury crisis (see below). On the bright side, Paul Pogba will be fit and fresh after missing Wednesday’s game due to suspension. On the brightest of bright sides, United remain unbeaten in 12 league games (10 wins) since Solskjaer took over for Jose Mourinho in mid-December.

Arsenal, on the other hand, will be considerably fatigued themselves after losing to Rennes in the Europa League on Thursday, and playing nearly 50 minutes with just 10 men. With dwindling hope of lifting the final trophy still in play for the Gunners, Unai Emery‘s main objective has become exceedingly clear: get the club back into the Champions League for the first time in three years. Three points would not only send Arsenal two points clear of United for fourth, but would also trim the gap between themselves and Spurs to just a single point with eight games left to play.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Lucas Torreira (suspension), Hector Bellerin (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Rob Holding (knee) | Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (knee), Jesse Lingard (hamstring), Juan Mata (hamstring), Antonio Valencia (calf); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (groin), Nemanja Matic (leg), Ander Herrera (hamstring), Phil Jones (illness), Matteo Darmian (undisclosed)

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Liverpool return cut short

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played in his first game in 11 months on Friday, as the Liverpool midfielder appeared for their U23 side against Derby County.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, 25, was supposed to play the first 45 minutes of the game but he came off after just 40 minutes and was shown clutching his right hamstring at times during the first half.

The Ox signalled that he wanted to come off just before the break and didn’t look too happy as he trotted off the pitch.

Our partners at Sky Sports have footage of the moment Oxlade-Chamberlain’s involvement in the game came to an end.

Reporters at the game said the England international walked straight off the pitch with a physio and headed back to the dressing room area, but seemed to be moving okay.

Liverpool’s U23 coach Matt Critchely gave a few more details on the injury the Ox suffered.

“He obviously had a bit of an issue but hopefully it’s nothing major,” Critchley said. “The bonus for him is that it’s not his knee, so he’s delighted there are no problems with that. He was enjoying himself, he was happy to be back playing. Hopefully when he wakes up in the morning, fingers crossed it’s nothing and only a precaution. The idea was only ever to play him for 45 minutes at most anyway. He nearly got that, as well. Hopefully it’s not as bad as it first looked. He was looking over [to the bench] and we weren’t sure. It’s maybe some kind of muscle problem and maybe one to assess tomorrow. What was good is that he was sensible. He came off quite quick. He has handled that situation quite well.”

After the serious knee injury he suffered in the UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against Roma last April, this was one of the final steps in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s recovery.

It is not uncommon for a player to be overcautious in these situations, so watch this space.

Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be sweating on the latest diagnosis on Oxlade-Chamberlain, as having the combative midfielder available for the final months of the season would be a massive boost for Liverpool’s manager.