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Hard graft makes home rule work

Premier League: Liverpool v Arsenal, Live Sky Sports (KO 8.00)

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Virgil van Dijk is one of the main reasons that Liverpool have turned Anfield into a fortress

Virgil van Dijk is one of the main reasons that Liverpool have turned Anfield into a fortress

Pool via REUTERS

Virgil van Dijk is one of the main reasons that Liverpool have turned Anfield into a fortress

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists there is no "secret recipe" to their incredible unbeaten home form and it is purely down to hard work.

The Reds are closing in on the club record of 63 home league wins, set between 1978-81 and the last time they were beaten at Anfield was when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace in April 2017.

They have dropped only six points out of the last 120 at home (winning 37 and drawing three of 40 matches).

However, Liverpool's formidable statistics mean little to Klopp.

"The only time I think about that number is when someone asks me about it and once I've answered the question I forget it immediately because I am absolutely not interested," he added.

"We did what we did. We try to win football games and we've done that at home in different circumstances, at nighttime, lunchtime, with supporters, without supporters.

"It is our home and we feel really well there but it is no secret recipe what we have - we never expect to lose but we don't expect to win.

"It is just we know we have to work and we want to deserve three points, that's what we want. That is it, pretty much."

Liverpool's 60-match unbeaten home run will be put to the test by a resurgent Arsenal tonight in what promises to be an enthralling encounter.

Klopp believes it is far too premature to talk about title contenders but he promised the defending champions will be among them come the end of the season.

Their last two encounters have seen the Gunners prevail, albeit once on penalties in last month's Community Shield, but having beaten big-spending Chelsea last weekend Klopp refused to view this as a showdown between two title rivals.

"I don't know why we speak about winning the league after two matchdays," he said.

"A lot of times it is an open race. Chelsea will be there 100pc, (Manchester) United, Arsenal, Tottenham - these teams will always be there.

"Then there are tough moments for us and others in a season and it is about how you react.

"The season is not a sprint it is a marathon and you have to go through a lot of different moments.

"I don't know who will win the league at the end of the season but I know a few teams will try and we will be one of them."

Klopp also has major injury concerns ahead of Arsenal's visit with Thiago Alcantara and Alisson Becker doubts for the game.

The duo have unspecified injuries but have missed training sessions in previous days and there is anxiety about both players' availability.

Thiago made his debut against Chelsea last weekend, playing 45 minutes in the 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

With Klopp already without captain Jordan Henderson due to a muscle issue, the Liverpool coach said last week he was weighing up whether to give the £20million from Bayern Munich signing his first start.

Worse still, Liverpool may also have to cope without their number one, Alisson.

Encountered

Back-up goalkeeper Adrian is on standby after the Brazilian also encountered an issue in the last few days. The former West Ham keeper regularly deputised for Alisson last season, including at the beginning of the campaign.

Klopp's midfield options have been complicated, not only by Henderson's absence and Thiago's issue, but the recent injuries to centre-backs Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.

Gomez has returned to training so could return alongside Virgil Van Dijk, despite Fabinho's excellence when used as an emergency defender at Stamford Bridge.

That would enable the Brazilian midfielder to slot back into his more familiar midfield position.

Despite all this, Arteta will warn his Arsenal players to prepare for the very best of Liverpool tonight.

The Gunners have not won at Liverpool since 2012 and the two sides will now meet twice in four days with their League Cup fourth-round clash coming on Thursday night.

Arteta has told his side they must prepare for the hosts to be at their best if Arsenal are to register a rare win on Merseyside.

"Never give up, that is crucial against them," Arteta replied when asked about the challenge of beating Liverpool.

"And you have to expect them to be at their best. If you are always expecting that then the level of attention is higher, the focus is higher and then you are more determined in every ball. Against them that is key.

"I don't see any complacency (in Liverpool's players). They go to any ground, even when they are 2-0 up, 3-0 up, 4-0 up, and they still go in the same way.

"This is an incredible credit to the coaching team, the culture they have created and the spirit of that team.

"You can see that in the 24 or 26 players they have in the squad."