Jurgen Klopp has described Mikel Arteta as an “exceptional football manager” as he targets his first win over Arsenal since the Spaniard launched his north London revolution.
Liverpool manager Klopp saw his championship-winning side fall to a rare Premier League loss in July when they faced Arteta’s Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal then inflicted a penalty shoot-out defeat on Liverpool in the Community Shield at the end of August, leaving Klopp still searching for that elusive victory over Pep Guardiola’s former assistant.
On Monday, the teams resume their intriguing recent rivalry at Anfield, and while Klopp is confident Liverpool can extend their 100 per cent start to the season, he can see Arteta instilling a culture at Arsenal that is built for success.
After nine months at the helm, a club that was blighted by instability before Arteta’s arrival looks to have a firm footing and a sense of direction.
“Mikel Arteta has shown in a pretty short period of time that he seems to be an exceptional football manager. The structure of the team is absolutely exceptional,” Klopp said.
“You can see the balance between defence and offence is really good. There’s good organisation, freedom for the players and he uses the players in the right position.
“Since he’s been there, he’s done a pretty impressive job, changed the whole mood in the club. I don’t think a lot of people thought he would have won any competition, but he did that by winning the FA Cup and also the English ‘Super Cup’ [the Community Shield].
“That’s pretty impressive. So it’s a tough, tough opponent.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 25, 2020
“They defend properly, all the players are involved. They defend in a 5-4-1 which is a pretty tricky situation. I can say a lot of positive things about Arsenal because it’s true, but I think we still have a chance on Monday night.”
Liverpool will be without captain Jordan Henderson for the Arsenal game after he was substituted in the win at Chelsea last Sunday because of a thigh problem.
That could open the door for Thiago Alcantara to make his home debut from the start, following his arrival from Bayern Munich.
Klopp was cautious on that prospect, yet the recent Champions League winner would be an obvious candidate given how well he performed after replacing Henderson at Stamford Bridge.
“We will see,” Klopp said. “We have a few days to train, so we will see how we set up. I have an idea, but why should I make a decision today? But he’s in contention, so let’s see.”