Jurgen Klopp has expressed his admiration for Arsene Wenger, saying he does not understand criticism of the Arsenal manager and is glad he remains at the club.
Wenger signed a new two-year deal at Emirates Stadium in May after intense speculation regarding his future, with many fans protesting against his continued leadership of the team.
But Klopp insists Wenger’s future should only be decided by the manager himself or the Arsenal board as Liverpool prepare to welcome the Gunners to Anfield on Sunday.
“Obviously, Arsene loves what he is doing,” the German told a pre-match news conference. “Obviously, he feels he has all the energy he needs to do it.
“He’s the only person who can judge this – apart from the board at Arsenal, who think the same and extended his contract.
“After this long, unbelievable, successful time, always being in the Champions League, always being close to winning things, you can get the feeling that a few people don’t want you anymore. I don’t understand it.
“The only thing I can say is that I really respect him a lot. I really respect all the things he has done in the past, for Arsenal but also for football in general.
“He’s a big, big, big manager in the history of the Premier League, of football, of whatever. He has the power still and that’s all you need. I’m happy that he’s still there.”
Wenger is expected to have Alexis Sanchez available for the first time this season at Liverpool, but Klopp is determined not to focus on just one player in the visitors’ ranks.
“If you are concentrating too much on [Sanchez], then – 100 per cent – Mesut Ozil will show up,” he said.
“Or [Olivier] Giroud, [Alexandre] Lacazette, [Theo] Walcott, oh my god! [Danny] Welbeck. Then [Aaron] Ramsey will shoot from 25 yards or [Granit] Xhaka will shoot from 40 yards.
“So we don’t have to think too much about them. We have the tactical tools to make it more difficult. That’s the first job to do and then, when we have the ball, we have to know where to play.”