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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk claimed his half-time clash with Arsenal's Sokratis was sparked by the Gunners man accusing Mohamed Salah of diving to win a penalty.

The two players became embroiled in a tussle as the two teams headed off the field at the end of the first half, with the Reds having taken a commanding 4-1 lead. Mohamed Salah's tumble in the penalty area was viewed as over-theatrical by the Gunners' defenders, with Sokratis becoming particularly vocal about his grievances over being penalised for the challenge.

Speaking to the Mirror, van Dijk revealed that Sokratis' accusations of foul play from Salah triggered the half-time rough-housing, saying: "I saw that he went to Mo and was saying that he dived. He was attacking him a bit, but I wanted to say he didn’t dive. Obviously everyone came around us and it looked like we were fighting or something but we weren’t.

"I just wanted to talk to him. But that happens in football and we move on. I’m protecting my team-mates and that’s normal, that’s how everyone should react and that’s what we all need to do, to back each other. That’s what I definitely do."

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The Reds' emphatic win over Arsenal saw them open up a cavernous ten point lead at the top of the Premier League table, though the gap was shortened by Manchester City the following afternoon, whose 3-1 win over Southampton saw them move to within seven points of Jürgen Klopp's side ahead of their massive clash on Thursday.

In other news, the Reds have reportedly blocked their goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from leaving the club in January. The Belgian stopper has only played one match for his side this season, and has had to settle for being backup to Liverpool's big-money summer signing Alisson. 

Klopp is believed to be keen to keep Mignolet at the club as a strong alternative in case his first keeper succumbs to injury at some point in the long season ahead.