Arsenal manager Unai Emery may have suggested Liverpool can repeat the achievement of the London club’s celebrated ‘Invincibles’ but Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has told his unbeaten Premier League leaders to expect a tough contest at Anfield on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side were undefeated as they won the Premier League in the 2003/04 season and Emery believes Liverpool could follow suit. The Merseysiders are six points clear at the top of the Premier League, with champions Manchester City having lost ground after surprise back-to-back defeats.
Emery, asked if Liverpool could match Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ by going through a season without losing, replied: “At the moment they are doing it and they can do it. They can do that because they are doing it at the moment.”
Arsenal, however, were the last side to deprive Liverpool of points in the league with a 1-1 draw at the Emirates on November 3 – one of three draws Liverpool have managed in a run of 19 league games.
But Liverpool manager Klopp responded to his Arsenal counterpart’s comments by saying: “Was the question for Unai Emery, ‘Do you think Liverpool can go unbeaten?’ Is that a normal answer then?
“That’s not how I know Unai Emery (taking pressure off his team). I don’t think that the white flag has been raised, it will be a tough game tomorrow (Saturday) night. They are good and that is all I am interested in.”
Liverpool are set to be without injured James Milner for the visit of Arsenal but, looking ahead, Klopp said Milner’s fellow midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could make a quicker return than forecast from a severe knee ligament problem.
It had been thought Oxlade-Chamberlain could be sidelined for as long as a year after suffering the injury during a Champions League semi-final first leg win at home to Roma in April.
But Klopp said on Friday he could return to training in February.
“No pressure on him, but it looks like February maybe he is back in normal training, late February/March, so that gives us hope he will be back this season,” Klopp said.
“If anyone from the medical department is listening to what I said, they’ll probably have a breakdown, but how it looks is really good.” Usually we are not that excited about something like this – a lot of things can happen after being out for that long a time – but it looks so positive,” the German added.
“He is ahead of schedule and that is always good news and now we hope not to push him too much, but not hold him back.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)