Football

Arteta's touchline spat fuels Arsenal's on-pitch mauling

Arteta's altercation with Klopp produces strong second-half response from Reds

An ugly first-half altercation between Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and his Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta fired up the home fans and players at Anfield yesterday morning (Singapore time) as the Reds thrashed a resurgent Arsenal 4-0.

After a quiet first half an hour, Liverpool striker Sadio Mane's aerial challenge on Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu saw the away side's normally controlled Spanish manager rise in outrage.

That incensed the often passionate Klopp, who strode angrily towards Arteta as the fourth official came between them.

Both men raised their hands and shouted at each other as assistants restrained them. They even carried on chuntering in each other's direction after referee Michael Oliver brandished yellow cards to both men.

The incident raised the noise levels at a packed Anfield and appeared to galvanise Liverpool, who stepped up their intensity levels and went on to score four goals with no reply via Mane, Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino in a sixth successive home English Premier League defeat of Arsenal.

Klopp said he was incensed by the Arsenal bench's targeting of Mane and compared it to the treatment of his striker by Atletico Madrid in this month's Champions League game.

"It was absolutely no foul from Sadio. But the Arsenal bench was up like it was nearly a red card or whatever," the German said.

"It was nothing, he didn't even touch him. It was just two players going in the air, and then they (Arsenal's bench) jump (up), and that was not OK, and that's what I said.

"I'm really sick of that, everyone tries to go for Sadio in these moments... It's just not right."

Klopp acknowledged, however, that he let his passions get the better of him.

"The ref did really well in that situation and I deserved the yellow card, it's no problem at all," he said.

"You can't act like this, it just happened in the moment."

Arteta would not be drawn into the matter later, saying such incidents were part of the blood-and-thunder of football.

"He was trying to defend his side, I was trying to defend mine, that's it," he said, adding there was nothing more to say and "it doesn't matter" what he thought of Mane at the time.

"I congratulated him (Klopp) for the game. For me, all these incidents stay there. They are part of the heat and the way we like to compete, and that's it."

Ex-Gunners' midfielder Jack Wilshere said from his experience as a player under Arsene Wenger, the Frenchman's touchline clash with then-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho motivated the players as they watched their manager "get stuck in".

However, former Reds defender Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports: "I think Arteta will look back at that and think it was a mistake.

"If that was a player on the pitch who did a silly challenge and lifted the crowd or the opposition - we've all been there in the dressing room and you come in at half-time and the manager is saying: 'Look at what you've done. You've lifted this crowd'.

"I think he'll look back at that and think it's something he'll probably regret and won't get involved in situations like that again."

Arteta admitted his on-form side "crashed" early in the second period, saying: "We just crashed. We just threw it away in the first 15-20 minutes (of the second half)... and they punished us, and after that, we lost control of the game, and they had all the momentum."

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold added on Sky Sports: "The first 15-20 minutes of the second half were as good as we've pressed all season. We were all over them - they were just seeing red blurs all over the place." - REUTERS

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