With the international break looming, Liverpool sacked Brendan Rodgers a week ago.
Seven days on and Liverpool fans are still giddy after seeing Jürgen Klopp appointed as his successor. The German with a big laugh, a big smile and a big personality faces a huge challenge to take the club, who haven’t been champions of England since 1990, back to the top. But what does his appointment mean for Arsenal?
Unfortunately for us, Arsène Wenger’s sides have struggled a little bit against sides who press intensely without the ball. The most direct influence Klopp’s appointment will have on us is when we face his Liverpool sides, and that could be testing.
There have been successes against Klopp himself but, more often than not, Arsenal look vulnerable when pressed in an organised fashion. Under Rodgers, Liverpool caused huge problems for us at Anfield in 2013/14 when they played at a high pace. The same happened last season, but the Reds didn’t take their chances. Though a last minute goal from Martin Skrtel rescued a point for Liverpool, the game could’ve been over in the first half.
Klopp’s Dortmund side caused huge problems against Arsenal. Also back in 2013/14, their two goals at the Emirates Stadium came from forcing an error high up the pitch before counter-attacking for a late winner. With Arsenal, Wenger has won three of six games against Klopp, the battle will be intriguing would be an understatement. In September 2014/15, Borussia Dortmund forced and exploited one of the worst Arsenal displays in Wenger’s time at the club.
Domestically, Wenger’s men rarely come up against organised pressing teams but have struggled badly against Southampton. Under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino before Ronald Koeman took charge in 2014, the Saints have looked to remain organised but try to force turnovers as high as possible before defending deeper. On our last two visits to St. Mary’s stadium, the plan has worked and Arsenal have looked all at sea. Pochettino’s side reclaimed possession repeatedly and excellently at White Hart Lane last season on the way to a 2-1 win.
With few pressing teams in the country, Arsenal don’t get much practise against systems like the one Klopp will implement. It’ll be a big test when we come up against it.
The Gunners have already face Liverpool once this season (and the first half again saw Rodgers’ side trouble Arsenal by pressing high) and travel to Anfield to face Klopp’s Liverpool for the first time in mid-January. The manager hasn’t been particularly good at rotating sides and will be going through his first congested English winter. With a fairly limited squad, it could play into Arsenal’s hands but next season, and if we face Liverpool in the cup, we will have to be better equipped to face Klopp’s press.
Four goes into four much more comfortably than five does. Qualifying for the Champions League is absolutely crucial. Firstly, you want to win it.
How does one win it? With good players. Players who won’t sign for us if we aren’t in the Champions League. Even if they will sign, we’ll have less money to pay for them. Once you’re out, it’s not easy getting back in.
Right now, there are four teams heavy favourites to make the top four in England each and every season. We’re only eight games into the new campaign but Arsenal and the Manchester clubs are already the top three in the Premier League, with last season’s champions Chelsea yet to recover from an appalling start. Those four clubs have been England’s Champions League representatives in four of the past five seasons.
In order to break into that elite group, Liverpool needed something different. They couldn’t replace the talent of Luis Suárez and Raheem Sterling, but now have a manager who could get much more out of the current players. While it would be funny to see Chelsea out of Europe next season, it could come at a huge cost eventually. With Klopp, Liverpool now have to aim for the top four and have a decent shot at it.
Chelsea will recover, even if it isn’t until next season after a summer splurge. Manchester United and Manchester City will continue to spend in order to improve. Arsenal are looking great right now but Liverpool are about to make huge progress. Someone has to miss out.
There aren’t many managers who will be considered worthy of replacing Arsène Wenger. When the Frenchman leaves, Arsenal will have a squad brimming with talent, huge amount of money, and aspirations to win the Premier League and Champions League.
The list of top managers is incredibly small, then you have to consider the club will look for a man who encourages attacking football. Wenger’s legacy will be continued, but who can do it?
There’s little doubt that Jürgen Klopp would’ve been high on the list of potential successors to Wenger, but his name will probably have to be scrubbed off now.
Klopp is likely to have quite a long stay at Liverpool, and certainly won’t end up breaking a contract to join another English club. Should Wenger retire in the next few years (his current contract runs until 2017), Klopp won’t be the next manager at the Emirates Stadium.
That’s not to say he would have been, but he certainly would’ve made a shortlist.
Klopp’s unlikely to antagonise or disrespect Wenger and Arsenal, so he’s already better than rival managers we’ve come across before. As a good tactician and huge personality, he’ll pose threats to Arsenal on the pitch and when it comes down to the league table.
In the transfer market, you can imagine top players wanting to play for Klopp – Arsenal could face more competition there. Alexis Sánchez spoke to Arsène Wenger and signed for us because, to be frank, who wants to play for Brendan Rodgers rather than Arsène Wenger? But for Klopp? That’s another question altogether.
Unfortunately, the appointment is an excellent one from Liverpool and that can only be a bad thing for Arsenal. The most painful thing is to see such a likeable man at such a self righteous and unbearable club.