Xherdan Shaqiri has not been included in Liverpool’s travelling squad for Tuesday’s Champions League match against Red Star Belgrade, the Premier League club have announced.
Shaqiri caused a storm along with Switzerland team-mate Granit Xhaka when they both celebrated goals against Serbia at the World Cup in Russia by making an Albanian nationalist eagle symbol with their hands.
The pair are both of Kosovan-Albanian descent and the incident, for which they were fined by FIFA, threatened to inflame political tensions. Kosovo is a former Serbian province and Serbia does not recognise its independence.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said on Liverpool’s official website on Monday “It’s a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football.
“We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that’s all.”
The visitors appeared on course to inflict a first defeat on the Gunners since August when Milner scored the 50th Premier League goal of his career to open the scoring just after the hour-mark.
Arsenal battled back to earn a 1-1 draw as Alexandre Lacazette turned home a superb equaliser just eight minutes from time.
The draw extends Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the league campaign, with Jurgen Klopp’s side having previously drawn at Chelsea and at home to champions Manchester City, while winning 2-1 at Tottenham.
“This draw is different to Chelsea, for example, so there are ups and downs and things that we can learn,” Milner told liverpoolfc.com.
“But you can see we are moving forward as a team and we are defending well together. Again, that’s another learning curve for us – to see those sorts of games out.
“We are very disappointed really, which is a good thing I suppose, playing away at Arsenal.
“To be 1-0 up in the second half and not see it out, we are disappointed; with the chances we created we should have scored a few more goals.
“It’s pleasing we are creating those chances, but we could have been a bit more ruthless and maybe not put as much pressure on ourselves not to concede to win the game.”
Both sides had first-half goals ruled out for offside, Liverpool’s somewhat controversially, while Virgil van Dijk hit a post for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.
Arsenal’s record against their top-six rivals has been poor of late but Unai Emery’s side deserved to take a point from this game.
Having started his tenure as head coach with losses to City and Chelsea, the Spaniard has not tasted defeat since.
While the top sides have made impressive starts to the campaign, defender Rob Holding believes the Gunners have done a good job to keep up with them – the draw against Liverpool leaving them four points behind last season’s beaten Champions League finalists.
“We’ll take the draw and hopefully next time we’ll get three points,” said Holding.
“If everyone’s together, the sky is the limit. We’ll just keep pushing on. It’s a competitive league. Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool have all had flying starts and we’re right on their tails.
“We’ve just got to keep ticking away with the points and you never know what can happen further on in the season.
“There’s a really good team chemistry here and a winning mentality. We’re not losing and we’ll keep fighting until the end. We never give up, we’ll keep going and get what we deserve.”
After a stellar first half from the hosts it was actually the away side that went in front, James Milner capitalizing on a poor punch from Bernd Leno to sweep Liverpool into the lead.
The hosts levelled though inside the final 10 minutes – substitute Alex Iwobi threaded a fine ball through to Alexandre Lacazette and the Frenchman showed excellent composure to hold his nerve and bend beautifully past Alisson.
Here we rate the Liverpool players.
Alisson – 8: Composed amid a first half barrage from Arsenal, adept handling keeping them at bay. Distribution was also superb.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5: Not the full-back’s best game as he gave the ball away with alarming regularity. His 63.2 per cent pass success was the worst on the pitch.
Virgil van Dijk – 9: A colossus at the back as Liverpool found themselves under siege. Unlucky twice not to score. A genuine class act.
Joe Gomez – 6: Dealt adequately with everything Arsenal threw at the visitors. Overawed at times but stuck to task – led side with eight clearances.
Andrew Robertson – 7: A stellar athlete who never seems to fade. Not his usual best going forward while he also had to keep an eye on the marauding Bellerin.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 6: Had a quiet game and seemed overwhelmed with Arsenal’s pace. Did make two interceptions though.
Fabinho – 4: Looked all at sea as he tried hopelessly to shackle Ozil. Did lead Liverpool with three tackles, but still some way off being a regular.
James Milner – 7: As ever, put in a shift, and needed to as Liverpool’s midfield was overawed. Showed composure to put his side ahead. Three key passes.
Mohamed Salah – 8: Looked on it from the start and terrorised Kolasinac. Hasn’t been bad this season but seemed to take a step up here. Four key passes led Liverpool.
Roberto Firmino – 3: Unlucky to hit the woodwork, from which Mane’s strike was ruled out, but overall was woeful, indicative of current form. No shots on target from three attempts tells the story of his game.
Sadio Mane – 6: Harshly judged offside when tapping in Firmino’s rebound. Lively but wasteful and hesitant in possession, although he did create the confusion for the opener.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 6: Almost helped set up a second straight after Arsenal’s leveler, but cut-back was sent wide by Mane. That was more than Firmino had managed the entire game.
Joel Matip N/A: A late cameo for Salah.