Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has been fanning the flames ahead of his side’s Premier League opener against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal have become synonymous with controlled, attacking play during his tenure at the club (sometimes to their detriment), but Klopp feels that this reputation is sometimes a myth, and that they are quite capable of resorting to long balls to the striker if it suits them.
Klopp used the example of the teams’ 3-3 draw at Anfield last January as evidence for this theory, when he insists that their game plan became simply about lumping the ball towards Olivier Giroud:
“I think everyone who saw the game [at Anfield] saw the difference between this game and all the other Arsenal games.
“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.
“Arsenal is usually a football playing team 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.
“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.”
The corresponding fixture at the Emirates last season, again an early season encounter, saw both sides come close to scoring on multiple occasions but ultimately playing out an entertaining 0-0 draw.
Liverpool’s record at the Emirates is not a good one – they have only beaten Arsenal on one occasion since the Gunners moved there in 2006, when Kenny Dalglish’s side defeated an injury-ravaged home team 2-0 in 2011.