Sunday 4 December 2016

Klopp wary of long-ball threat from the Gunners

Liam Blackburn

Published 14/08/2016 | 02:30

'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.' Photo: PA
'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.' Photo: PA

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.

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The Gunners begin the new season with limited options in the centre of ­defence due to injuries to new club ­captain 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.

"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," he said.

"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. 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," he said. "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. 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."

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