EPL

Klopp will remain 'calm' with Arsenal team selection as Thiago and Diaz close in on returns

By Sports Desk April 07, 2023

Liverpool are close to welcoming back Thiago Alcantara and Luis Diaz from injury, but manager Jurgen Klopp will remain "calm" when selecting his side to face Arsenal.

The Reds host Premier League leaders Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday desperately attempting to keep their season alive after collecting one point from their past three games.

Tuesday's 0-0 draw at Chelsea ended a two-game losing run, but it leaves Liverpool 10 points adrift of Newcastle United and Manchester United in third and fourth respectively.

Klopp surprisingly made six changes for the trip to Stamford Bridge, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk dropping out.

Van Dijk's absence was put down to illness, which Klopp confirmed at Friday's press conference he has now recovered from, while two other key men are now back in training.

Diaz has not played for Liverpool since the reverse fixture with Arsenal in October, while Thiago is further ahead in his recovery after spending two months out with a hip injury.

"Virgil is back in training. Luis and Thiago are training," Klopp told reporters. "The plan with Luis is he will be available 100 per cent for Leeds [a week on Monday]. 

"It was a long injury, so we will have to be careful. We will probably not involve him on Sunday. Thiago is slightly different. He's trained three times and might be available."

Asked if those left out against Chelsea are in contention to start against Arsenal, Klopp said: "We've had one proper [training] session since then.

"The boys haven't shown me they don't want to play. This is not the situation we are in. I have to make decisions about the team based on what I have seen in training.

"That opens the door for everybody. I cannot constantly ask for something I didn't get. I am always really calm in this moment. In the end, we will see what the outcome is."

 

While Liverpool have struggled for consistency, they have won five of their past six matches at Anfield, drawing the other, including the last three by an 11-0 aggregate scoreline.

Indeed, the Reds have not conceded a goal on home soil in seven hours and 26 minutes of league football stretching back to December.

"Anfield is not the only thing we should rely on, but it is no secret that the combination of our people, the ground and the boys is pretty good," Klopp said. 

"That is what we have to throw in, but not rely on it. I have a very good feeling we can [beat Arsenal]."

Arsenal are 29 points better off than Liverpool, having played a game more, and are seeking their first league double in this fixture since the 2009-10 campaign.

However, Liverpool have won their past six home Premier League games against Arsenal, scoring at least three times in each game (22 goals in total).

Klopp has been impressed by the work of opposite number Mikel Arteta, but he remains hopeful his side can put on a show for their supporters at Anfield on Sunday.

"I know people ask for more time for managers, and I think Mikel deserved every minute when it wasn't going well, because they are there now," Klopp said.

"Arsenal made good transfers and are now pretty stable. They brought in super important players but not too many.

"Mikel has been building for a few years now and the outcome is pretty impressive. I don't know exactly what you can say about us at the moment, so that shows the situation. 

"It's still Anfield, we're at home, and we must show a reaction, an improvement. We have to help the boys with different things. In a home game, the crowd can be a massive boost."

Klopp is looking to win seven home league games in a row against an opponent for the first time since doing so against Werder Bremen with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

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