Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp has stoked the fire somewhat ahead of our opening Premier League match of the season by suggesting that opponents Arsenal are more of a long-ball side than people realise.
The Gunners have long been lauded for their attractive football, despite not winning the competitions their talent has maybe warranted – but Klopp suggests this might be a myth, having studied Arsene Wenger’s team heavily over pre-season.
“Arsenal have a lot of wonderful players for their offensive play. It’s only one game,” Klopp told his pre-math press-conference at Melwood today, reported in the Echo.
“We only think about our play and our game. What we saw in the games from pre-season, how they defend and attack, there was a lot of long balls. And at Anfield last season, it caused us a lot of problems.
“That’s what we think about, not the type of problems we want.”
Liverpool drew 2-2 with Arsenal at Anfield last January, and away from home, the Gunners undeniably play a little more direct and sit deeper – looking to use their speed on the counter-attack.
At the Emirates though we’ll admit we’ve never seen a long-ball Arsenal team under Wenger, except perhaps against Bayern or Barca, although clearly Klopp has seen something different.
There’s a chance he’s just deploying some clever mind-games, of course!
Arsenal are without Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker or Grabiel on Sunday, meaning they’ll have to use an inexperienced central defensive pairing – potentially using the likes of Calum Chambers or Rob Holding alongside makeshift defender Francis Coquelin.