Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta is part of an “exciting new coaching generation” and he expects the Gunners to challenge for the top four again under the Spaniard.
Klopp’s side travel to the Emirates on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports, needing a win to maintain their hopes of surpassing Manchester City’s all-time points record for a Premier League season.
Arsenal head into the match on the back of a damaging 2-1 defeat to north London rivals Tottenham but Klopp believes the Gunners are showing signs of improvement under Arteta, despite their ninth-place position in the Premier League.
When asked if Arsenal could challenge for the top four next season, Klopp said: “Unfortunately, probably yes! It looks very much so.
“Mikel is part of this very exciting new coaching generation. Really exciting to watch, you can see the ideas behind it – influenced by Pep.
“He worked together with him and probably had the same idea before when Mikel was still a player. You can see a massive influence of him and on top of that Arsenal are a really exciting squad.
“They have more experienced offensive players with massive quality and coming up a lot of really good [young] ones.
“It looks like Arsenal will be proper challengers again.”
Klopp: Lovren still important for Liverpool
Liverpool are planning to activate an extension clause in Dejan Lovren’s contract which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2022.
The defender has one year remaining on his current deal at Anfield but Liverpool will take up an option to extend his contract for another season, if he remains at the club at the end of the summer transfer window.
Lovren has made just 10 Premier League appearances this season, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez largely preferred in central defence, but Klopp insists the Croatian remains a key figure at Anfield.
“Dejan has played outstanding games for us and is always a very important part of the squad,” said Klopp.
“There is absolutely no problem. It is always like this, we have four centre-halves and we usually play with two of them, but we needed all four always. It is very important role.
“He played for us in the Champions League final, played in a lot of big games, and has always been a very reliable player.”
Russian club Zenit St Petersburg are thought to be interested in signing Lovren but Klopp has refused to discuss a potential move for the defender.
“There is nothing to say about the contract situation because that’s nothing to discuss in public. I think the situation is absolutely clear – Dejan is a player at Liverpool,” added Klopp.
“At this moment, with Joel (Matip) injured, we only have three centre-halves. You need the quality we have at centre-half to be successful. That is why there is nothing really to discuss.”