Liverpool defender Joel Matip has returned to first-team training after recovering from a muscular injury but the clash against Arsenal on Friday (22 December) may come too soon for him and Daniel Sturridge, manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.
Matip has missed the Reds' last five matches since sustaining the muscle issue in late November, while Sturridge has been absent after picking up a virus a couple of weeks ago.
Klopp, who will no doubt continue to rotate heavily during the festive period, also spoke about little "reactions" from some players after the win over Bournemouth but is confident those who played in the victory will be available to face the Gunners, who could leapfrog the Reds with a win on Friday [22 December].
The Liverpool boss was positive over the impending returns of Matip and Sturridge, who has also been nursing a tight hamstring, but he could not confirm the pair's availability for the trip to Arsenal. However, Cameroon international could yet return against struggling Swansea City on Boxing Day.
"Joel Matip was back in training yesterday," Klopp said in his press conference. "It's always now we have these little reactions from the last game. We need to wait but in this moment, apart from Sturridge, who was ill - he could be back - Joel Matip is positive. I'm not sure if he will be ready for Arsenal but for the games coming up, pretty sure."
Klopp's positivity surrounding Matip and Sturridge's return was curtailed by a development regarding Alberto Moreno's current injury situation. The Spaniard, who managed to force his way back into the first-team reckoning at Liverpool after falling out-of-favour last season, has still not returned to training after suffering a foot problem against Spartak Moscow, and Klopp was not able to put a specific timeframe on the former Sevilla starlet's recovery.
"Ah, [Moreno's out for] long-term unfortunately," Klopp said. "Alberto is still not even on the pitch, the foot will still take a few weeks unfortunately."
News of Moreno's lack of progress fitness-wise will no doubt come as a blow to Klopp, but he will at least take solace from the fact that Liverpool will not have to contend with the physicality of Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud, who has been ruled out after suffering a hamstring injury against West Ham United on Tuesday [19 December].
Klopp noticed Wenger's tendency to unleash Giroud against his side, and while he may be glad to learn of the Frenchman's absence, the German is still remaining cautious of the Gunners and their ability to perform in all manner of styles.
"I'm not sure if there are similarities between us," Klopp said. "Most of the time Giroud played from the beginning, that says a little bit about the style Arsenal choose against us. They're a complete football team, they can do everything, switch and change styles.
"Against us they played a lot of long balls to Giroud but he cannot play. They have a lot of good footballers on the pitch, on one side we have to defend them the best we can, on the other if there are any spaces we have to use them."