By Amir Mir
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has had a dig at Arsene Wenger ahead of their Premier League clash, accusing him of playing ‘long ball’ football.
The Merseyside club meet Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon in their Premier League opener. The previous clash between the two sides finished in a 3-3 draw at Anfield.
Klopp, who is in his first full season in charge of the Reds, believes the previous game is an example that Wenger’s side will turn to long-ball play if it suits them.
“I think everyone who saw the game saw the difference between this game and all the other Arsenal games,” said Klopp as quoted by the Mirror. “But in the last few years Arsenal had a more direct style.
“They have only good football players but at the end they don’t use all of them in each build up or each offensive movement – it is a myth. It is definitely a plan and they want to win games.”
The German singled out Arsenal target-man Olivier Giroud as an example of the Gunners’ long-ball tactics.
Giroud bagged a brace in their previous encounter at Anfield, but the Frenchman will not be playing on Sunday as he builds up his fitness after an extended break following Euro 2016.
However, Klopp still remembers the problems Mesut Ozil and Giroud caused them that day as he looks for a win at a much weakened north London side.
“Arsenal is usually a football playing team,” said Klopp. “But last time against us there was a lot of long balls and always to Olivier Giroud.”
“The second ball was to Ozil, they caused us a lot of problems in this game. That was a big threat on that day. We knew about it because a lot of teams chose this way against us so it we could have defended on this day better.
“It was not about what they did, it was about how they did it because it was highest quality with how Giroud and Mesut Ozil, especially, on this day performed.”
Arsenal have key players missing as they welcome Klopp’s side to London, with a number of injuries or unfit players causing havoc for the manager.
Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck, Giroud, and Gabriel are a number of players who will be missing for Wenger.
It means Arsenal may be forced to field an inexperienced and young central defensive line with 20-year-old summer signing Rob Holding and Callum Chambers strong contenders to start in defence.
In other Arsenal team news, manager Arsene Wenger selects his captain for the Liverpool clash, with Cech overlooked.