Liverpool V Arsenal at Anfield : Match Preview

03 March 2017 04:34
Liverpool V Arsenal - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Jurgen Klopp rejects claims Liverpool players are not physical enough

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has dismissed claims his players are a soft touch and easily intimidated on the pitch.

Monday's 3-1 defeat at Leicester saw the Reds out-fought and out-thought in every department and again raised questions about the strength - both mental and physical - to maintain a top-four challenge over the course of a season.

The Foxes' in-your-face approach - typified by Jamie Vardy's crunching first-minute tackle on Sadio Mane - appeared to take Liverpool's players by surprise despite having 16 days in which to prepare.

It was their fifth league defeat of the campaign, all of which have come against sides in the bottom half of the table, and opened up the players to suggestions they do not have the stomach for a fight.

However, Klopp disagreed, saying: "I think we are usually clean - not ugly challenges - but physical. It is not a general problem for us.

"Sometimes you need tactical fouls but being harder than allowed I don't think it makes sense. I never force my players to make fouls.

"We are always a pretty fair team as even in a challenge we want to keep the ball and not break a leg.

"Being physical means being ready to hurt yourself not the other player."

Liverpool are unlikely to have any such problems this weekend for the visit of Arsenal, a side who like to play football and will give their hosts more freedom than many teams who have visited Anfield this season.

Their meeting on the opening day of the season at the Emirates Stadium was a thrilling encounter which Klopp's side edged 4-3, but the manager admits his mood has changed significantly since, with just two wins in 12 matches in all competitions since the turn of the year.

"It doesn't feel that free-flowing any more. We have this lack of consistency, we cannot ignore it," he added.

"But I am 100 per cent optimistic again when I think about the Arsenal game - but I cannot say I am in exactly the same mood as the start of the season."

Arsene Wenger believes his Arsenal players owe themselves a good performance in a big game.

The Gunners have once again struggled against their main rivals this season and are now in a fight to maintain their record of always finishing in the Premier League's top four in all of Wenger's full seasons at the helm.

Arsenal were surprisingly beaten at home by Watford before slipping to a 3-1 loss at Chelsea and a 5-1 thrashing in their Champions League tie away to Bayern Munich.

That saw them slip off the pace in the title race and leaves them staring at a seventh successive round of 16 exit in Europe.

Having started the season well, recovering from a home reverse to Liverpool to go 19 games undefeated in all competitions, back-to-back 2-1 losses at Everton and Manchester City halted their title charge - and now Wenger wants a reaction on another big away-day.

"They owe themselves a performance," he said.

"They are quality players and I think on the day (at Bayern) it all went against us because we were 1-1 at half time and in the second half everything went against us.

"We lost Laurent Koscielny quickly and then quickly conceded without having adjusted, we lost three goals - (in minutes) 53, 56 and 63. After that it was mentally very difficult.

"We responded at Sutton (a 2-0 FA Cup win), that was quite a tricky game and we want to respond again tomorrow."

Source: PAR