Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool’s gripping 1-1 draw against Premier League title rivals Arsenal was marred by the serious injured suffered by Kostas Tsimikas when the Reds defender collided with his manager.
Klopp’s side hit back to stay within one point of leaders Arsenal as Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah’s blistering strike cancelled out Gabriel Magalhaes’ early header at Anfield.
But the Liverpool boss was left to rue a bizarre incident that led to Tsimikas being ruled out for a lengthy spell with a broken collarbone.
The Greek left-back collided with Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka late in the first half and went sprawling into Klopp, who was right in front of him on the touchline.
Klopp went flying but it was Tsimikas who stayed down before being helped to the tunnel holding his shoulder.
It is a setback for Liverpool, who were already without first-choice left-back Andrew Robertson, with a shoulder problem.
“It was massively overshadowed by Kostas Tsimikas’ collarbone issue, definitely broken, so he is out for a long time,” Klopp said.
While Klopp was frustrated by Tsimikas’ injury, he took heart from the way his team went toe to toe with Arsenal.
“Arsenal has the better start, with a corner and a free kick, they do that really well. We could have done better with the goal,” Klopp said.
“After half time we should have scored. If we would have won? I don’t know but we had the moments, the high press was there too.
“Arsenal are really exceptional but for those 20 minutes we had them, we shattered them slightly. We felt that they were shaky and we should have used that.”
Klopp was also infuriated by the VAR decision not to award a first half penalty for what looked a clear handball by Martin Odegaard.
“Yes I have seen it. I’m pretty sure someone will come to explain it to me why it was not a handball but I don’t know how?” he said.
“How can a guy in an office see that and not come to the conclusion that maybe it could be worth the referee having another look?”
– ‘Unbelievable game’ –
The hard-fought battle left Liverpool in second place, with Arsenal sitting in pole position heading into the hectic Christmas schedule.
“If you are not sure where we belong in the table that result shows that up there is where we belong. Now we have to go forward from here,” Klopp said.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was delighted with the way his players stood up to Liverpool in the Anfield cauldron.
“We wanted to do that against a team that plays that way in this atmosphere. To do that today shows that we can go to any ground and play that way,” he said.
The Gunners haven’t won at Anfield in the league since 2012, but Arteta insisted they held their own in a physical clash.
“A big test and we absolutely came through it. The boys were incredible. One of the most intense, hectic games I have witnessed in 20 years in this league which says a lot,” he said.
“It was an unbelievable game of football with two teams that raised the bar to another level, both sides wanted to win and played as such.
“Liverpool are the best team in the world at making a game like that. One minute we have a chance with Jesus, and the five seconds later the ball is in your own box.”
On Arsenal holding top spot at Christmas, Arteta added: “This allows us to have a beautiful Christmas dinner with our families tomorrow and then back to work to prepare for the next game.”