Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Mohamed Salah should not “have to bleed” to get a penalty as he defended his talisman against accusations of diving.
The Reds have surged into a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League, but have not done so without controversy, with Salah awarded penalties many have deemed soft.
Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos confronted Salah in the tunnel at Anfield at half-time of Liverpool’s 5-1 thrashing of the Gunners on Saturday.
Sokratis conceded a penalty after twice clipping the calf of Salah but believed the Egypt international went down easily.
Similar claims were made against Salah in their win over Newcastle on Wednesday, the former Roma and Chelsea forward appearing to receive minimal contact from Paul Dummett in the box before a spot-kick was awarded.
But Klopp remains steadfast in his defence of his star, telling reporters: “[Former referee] Dermot Gallagher said [after Newcastle], ‘penalty’. His [Dummett’s] arm was there. Do we need blood for a proper penalty? I think no.
“In that moment, if you don’t touch Mo and he makes the next step and shoots – and we know he’s pretty good at that – I haven’t seen it back [with Papastathopoulos] and I have no clue about what happened but the ref really was close to it.
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“We don’t have divers and that was not a dive. The other one is not a dive. The ref decides it. In the three and a half years, we have had more penalties not given when they were penalties and you think, ‘hmph, hmph, hmph’.”
While Roberto Firmino dazzled against Arsenal with a hat-trick completed from the spot, Klopp lavished praise on who some fans believed to be the best on the pitch, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.
“Under your radar,” Klopp said of the Netherlands international. “He’s an outstanding player. He combines a lot of things that you need.
“In a one-and-one situation, he can keep the body between the opponent and the ball, then pass the ball. I don’t know how many positions he’s played. He can play all three positions in midfield and that’s really nice.”
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