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Sunday 4 December 2016

Jurgen Klopp must cope with fixture congestion, warns Arsene Wenger

Published 11/01/2016 | 11:36

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger takes his Barclays Premier League leaders to Liverpool on Wednesday
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger takes his Barclays Premier League leaders to Liverpool on Wednesday

Arsene Wenger has told Jurgen Klopp he must adapt to the traditions of English football after the Liverpool boss spoke out about his team's fixture pile-up.

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The Reds welcome Wenger's league-leading Arsenal to Anfield on Wednesday night after making 11 changes to their team for the 2-2 FA Cup third-round draw at Exeter on Friday night.

Klopp is struggling with a chronic injury list as he looks to improve on a run of two wins from their last six Barclays Premier League games.

Liverpool face a run of six games in 18 days now they have to negotiate a replay with Exeter, with Klopp saying the biggest difference between managing in England rather than Germany is the number of games.

But Wenger, now in his 20th season at Arsenal, reckons adjusting to the pressure of playing more games is something everyone who comes to manage in the Barclays Premier League is important.

"I must say you get that from everybody who comes to England at the start because you have to adapt to the English style," he said.

"I was like that, and I'm still in favour of a winter break, but without losing the traditions of English football. That is play over Christmas, and maybe have a break in January.

"But I believe as well that we go a little bit overboard because today the English clubs are in a financial situation to have a squad of 25 top, top level players. It's not like it was 25 years ago, so we cannot always complain that we play too much because we have players who can rotate, players who want to play.

"In every club now, when I look at the bench I am quite impressed with the players who are there and can play, so I don't believe that it's like we have 13 players who have to play every single game."

Klopp has introduced his successful "gegenpressing" style at Anfield after it helped him to five major honours during his time in charge of Borussia Dortmund.

The physical exertion required to succeed with such a method of play has been highlighted by some as a reason for the number of injuries accumulating at Liverpool - a theory Wenger dismissed.

"I don't think you can explain the injuries of the players by the intensity of the game," he said.

"First of all it's difficult for me to assess this situation because I don't know exactly what's happening. Every injury is an individual case.

"We have been confronted with that as well and sometimes you are hit at a moment without doing much different to before, and you don't really know why.

"Every time we go to Anfield, we face a team who is up for it. It's always a ferocious battle, no matter who the manager is. They had a very strong manager before (Brendan Rodgers), they have a very strong one now and Klopp has the personality to do well there."

While Wenger also revealed the club are confident of finally getting a deal over the line for Basle midfielder Mohamed Elneny this week, Liverpool have made their first move in the transfer market.

Marko Grujic has been signed from Red Star Belgrade, although he will remain at the Serbian club on loan for the remainder of the season.

With the added incentive of extra revenue next season when the new £5billion Premier League television deal begins, Wenger reckons there will be a flurry of activity this month.

"I would say for the media you could have some good news that January transfer window," he added.

"I believe many clubs will be active. You go from the clubs who are down in the table like Villa, who have to do something, to the clubs at the top.

"I'm sure many of them could be very active. My prediction - that it could be one of the most active transfer windows in January that you have seen."

One big deal already completed is that of former Gunners youngster Benik Afobe, who joined Bournemouth from Wolves in a deal reportedly worth £10million, and Wenger feels the 22-year-old can be a hit on the south coast.

"He has the qualities to integrate into a team like Bournemouth, whose game is based on movement, pace and quick football," he said.

"I must say I am very happy for Benik because he had an outstanding attitude here and I am very pleased he has done well. It is a good opportunity for him and I hope he will be successful there.

"Sometimes you have to let people go who are not completely ready for us, knowing that they could be successful."

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