Klopp accuses Arsenal of playing ‘long ball’

Date published: Saturday 13th August 2016 3:38

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is paying little attention to Arsenal’s defensive crisis and is more concerned his side might be undone by a direct approach from Arsene Wenger’s men.

The Gunners begin the new season at home to Klopp’s men with limited options in the centre of defence due to injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel as well as concerns over Laurent Koscielny’s fitness.

However, Klopp does not subscribe to the theory that it is a perfect time to face a team lacking any senior central defenders and has warned his players they must prepare for a repeat of the longer passes which caused them issues in a 3-3 draw at Anfield back in January.

While Wenger’s teams have always been associated with a possession-based style, Klopp concedes the ‘route one’ attacks to striker Olivier Giroud provided plenty of headaches.

“Defensive problems only play a role in a game when the other team is really strong and offensive,” the German said.

“If you want to make a mistake then you think about if there are defensive problems. We haven’t thought a second about this. We think about our play and our game and what we saw from them in the pre-season, their style of play, how they defend, how they attack.

“We know Arsenal usually are a football-playing team but when they played last time against us (they played) a lot of long balls.

“Always (to) Giroud, second ball (to Mesut) Ozil. That caused us a lot of problems in this game. It was 3-3 in the last second. That’s what we think about and not what kind of problems they could have.”

This pre-season has been the first Klopp has experienced on Merseyside having been parachuted in in October last term during a hectic fixture schedule.

Opportunities to implement his ideas were therefore limited and this summer has presented him with an extended period to improve the fitness of a group required to carry out his ‘gegenpressing’ tactics.

Ronald Koeman, who is managing across the city at Everton, said earlier this week his team were only at 70 per cent fitness and Klopp admits his players’ involvement in Euro 2016 robbed him of a “perfect pre-season”.

“It’s much better than it was in October, of course,” the Liverpool boss added.

“The first three weeks we had a big number of players then all the players who were part of the Euros joined us, we had to bring them all together and they had different fitness levels, that’s a real challenge.

“Sometimes we were training in three groups. Nearly all the other clubs had it, so it’s not an excuse, it’s only a fact.

“Having them all together for six weeks, that would have been a perfect pre-season. With 12, 13, 14 players we could do a lot. We expect we can see this in the first game and that’s a big difference.”

James Milner (bruised heel) and Daniel Sturridge (hip) are both doubts for the trip to north London, though Dejan Lovren and Marko Grujic have overcome knocks.

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