Salah and Van Dijk set to be fit to face Huddersfield
Mané, and Keïta, who both suffered injury during international break, are doubts
Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Salah and defender Virgil van Dijk completed full training sessions at Melwood in Liverpool on Wednesday. Photograph:
The influential duo completed full training sessions at Melwood on Wednesday and, barring any late setbacks, will be included in Jürgen Klopp’s plans against David Wagner’s winless side.
Salah missed Egypt’s fixture with Swaziland on Tuesday having been substituted with a muscle problem against the same opponents last Friday, and Van Dijk was rested from the Netherlands’ friendly draw with Belgium in midweek.
Van Dijk played and scored for Ronald Koeman’s side in their Uefa Nations League win over Germany but was omitted against Belgium as a precaution against an ongoing rib injury. Sadio Mané, who suffered a thumb injury with Senegal, and Naby Keïta, who injured a thigh playing for Guinea, remain doubts.
Unai Emery, meanwhile, has challenged Aaron Ramsey to keep his performances up while his contract runs down. The midfielder, whose deal expires in the summer with negotiations frozen, is keen to see out the season at Arsenal rather than leave in January, and Emery’s only concern is that Ramsey’s performances and motivation stay on track.
“I want his performance to be like another player,” the manager said. “At the last match he started on the bench, played 35 minutes. For Monday against Leicester if he starts in first XI or the bench his focus must be to help us in the match, the same as any player.”
Ramsey was a central cog in a sublime team goal during Arsenal’s 5-1 win at Fulham before the international break. He missed playing for Wales against the Republic of Ireland to be with his wife as she had twins. The player has a lot going on but Emery is hopeful the 27-year-old can focus on games to help keep Arsenal’s winning run going. “January is very far,” Emery said. “I want every player to stay with the mentality and preparation to play together to win. The future is tomorrow, not more. Individual things are not for now.”
Emery has been stressing to his team that they must not be complacent as they seek their 10th successive win in all competitions. “The difficulty now is not relaxing,” he said. “We need to continue with every big demand on ourselves for each match, thinking our next match is most important.”
The supporters seemed to feel a corner had been turned at Fulham when they chanted about getting their Arsenal back but Emery is quick to warn them not to get carried away. “I am not agreeing,” he said. “We need to improve a lot. Supporters can enjoy with us but we are speaking with our reality every day.
“It was a very good result at Fulham but the first 45 minutes we need to do better. In the last match at the Emirates we won but not playing like we want with the control we want. We need to continue working with calm. Our target now is the same as the first matches when we lost against Man Cityand Chelsea. ”
Emery, meanwhile, is not concerned about Mesut Özil’s desire to perform despite a suggestion by former manager Arsene Wenger that the German playmaker’s retirement from international soccer could affect his motivation.
Özil quit international soccer shortly after returning from the World Cup in Russia. He had been widely criticised for posing with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan in a photograph in May. The 30-year-old said he had also faced “racism and disrespect” because of his Turkish roots.
Wenger, who left Arsenal in May after 22 years in charge, said earlier this week that Özil should come out of international retirement because otherwise he “loses a bit” of his drive.
“His motivation is very clear. We need every player with a big motivation every day, in training, with continuing improving and helping us with his quality,” Emery said. “The same with Mesut as any other player. We want every day to find this in every player.”
Ozil, who missed Arsenal’s 5-1 victory at Fulham earlier this month with a back spasm, is available for Monday’s game. Goalkeeper Petr Cech is also close to a return to training after sustaining a hamstring injury last month. – Guardian