(Reuters) - Liverpool can build on their determined defensive displays in recent weeks but face an intense test when they take on Arsenal in the Premier League on Friday, manager Juergen Klopp has said.
The Merseyside club were criticised for poor defending earlier this season, most notably after they were beaten 5-0 by leaders Manchester City and 4-1 by Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool have improved since the defeat to Spurs, conceding four goals in nine games but Klopp warned his players that Arsenal -- who lost 4-0 to Liverpool earlier this season -- have the ammunition to punch holes in their back line.
“We have to be really, really strong defensively in that game, Otherwise we don’t have a chance,” Klopp told a news conference on Wednesday.
”It’s Arsenal... you have quite a talented group there and they can create chances as well. All the players need to be spot on in this specific part of the game. They are a complete football team. They are able to do everything.
“There are things to work on, that’s how football is... The numbers are important and only four in the last nine is good but it’s again in the past. On Friday we have to be ready for a different challenge.”
Defender Joel Matip is back in training after recovering from a thigh injury but will not be ready for Friday while striker Daniel Sturridge is a doubt after a bout of illness.
Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returns to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since his move in the close season and impressed the manager in the 4-0 win over Bournemouth last weekend.
“He has became more and more a Liverpool player. So far we were lucky he is really fit,” Klopp said.
“The biggest improvement or potential he has is being involved in goalscoring situations. He has it in himself, but he was not asked to do it so much.”
Liverpool are fourth in the league with 34 points, a point and a place above Arsenal.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge