Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool have only been hindered by the latest international break.
The Reds’ 25-game unbeaten run came to an end before the latest round of international fixtures, with West Ham winning 3-2 at London Stadium.
That defeat followed on from a draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield, with the two results leaving Liverpool four points behind leaders Chelsea ahead of Saturday’s home game with in-form Arsenal.
Given Liverpool’s patchy form, Klopp was asked if the final international break of the year had given the team a chance to reset, but the former Borussia Dortmund boss laughed off the suggestion.
“No. I hate international breaks, and it didn’t help from an injury point of view,” said Klopp, who confirmed Jordan Henderson, Andrew Robertson and Fabinho would undergo late fitness tests, though Sadio Mane will be fit to play.
“If we had have played the week after, not another three days, but a full week then all the players who had no games would have had two days off.
“With their national teams they train through pretty much all this because the coaches have their own targets and they very often think they have to do physical work with them as well.
“No, I don’t like it. So it was not helpful. I would have loved to play the weekend after [the West Ham game].”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 16, 2021
Arsenal head to Anfield on the back of a 10-match unbeaten streak in all competitions and a win on Merseyside would see Mikel Arteta’s side leapfrog Liverpool into the top four.
“It says a lot, it’s not so much for the title race, it’s a bit early for that but it shows that if you want to stay around the top of the league you need results and we didn’t have enough good results in the last few weeks,” Klopp said.
“Yes, we lost against West Ham but even with a draw there it wouldn’t have been massively different. That’s it. We know that we have to perform, know that we have to fight.”
Arsenal were bottom of the Premier League after their first three games, but seem to be clicking under Mikel Arteta. They are now on the longest unbeaten run of any side in the Premier League (8 – W6 D2). The Gunners last had a longer run without defeat in the competition between August and December 2018 (14 games under Unai Emery).
“It’s great,” Klopp said of the turnaround. “The season starts, if you win your first match 4-0 you get questions about can you win the league, you think it’s really early. If you lose the first games you are directly in the relegation battle.
“Obviously with the quality of Arsenal they were never going to stay where they were in the first games of the season. The way they came back is not normal because since then they’ve had an incredible run of results.
“We are not surprised that Arsenal are a really good team but we need to make sure nobody forgets we are a really good team.”
Liverpool are unbeaten in nine Premier League home games (W5 D4), having lost six in a row at Anfield before this. However, the Reds let a lead slip to draw their last two home league games 2-2, dropping as many points from winning positions in those matches as they had in their previous 23 at Anfield combined (four).
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