In a season of so many coaching changes in the Premier League, Jurgen Klopp says Arsenal is a good example of what can happen when a club practices patience. (More Football News)
Mikel Arteta takes his first-place team to Liverpool on Sunday as the Gunners try to move a step closer to capturing what would be their first Premier League title since 2004.
“I know people are always asking for time for managers. I really think Mikel deserved each minute he got there when it was not going perfectly well,” Liverpool coach Klopp said Friday at a news conference. “In the beginning, maybe the steps were not big enough for some people and stuff like this and now they are (in first place)."
Chelsea's firing of Graham Potter on Sunday was the 13th managerial departure this season — the most in league history. All but one — Potter's resignation from Brighton — were related to underperformance.
Arteta took charge of Arsenal in December 2019 and guided the team to back-to-back eighth-place finishes.
The start of last season was rough, however. For the first time in club history, Arsenal started a campaign with three losses and no goals scored. The Gunners went into an international break on the back of a 5-0 loss at Manchester City before bouncing back to finish fifth.
Now, Arsenal holds an eight-point lead over City, which plays at bottom club Southampton on Saturday.
“Mikel is building this team for a few years now. Obviously the outcome is pretty impressive,” said Klopp, who in his seventh season is currently the league's longest-serving manager. "The way they play is fun to watch. It's super lively, really good football, top players on the pitch, good match plans.
“It's not exactly what you can say about us at the moment.”
A three-game winless run in league play has left Liverpool eighth, and 10 points back from the last Champions League spot.
Klopp might have midfielder Thiago Alcantara back from a hip problem, but winger Luis Diaz's return from a knee injury is targeted for the trip to Leeds on April 17.
“He looks good, everything was fine, but it was a long, long injury and so we have to be careful and we will probably not involve him for Sunday,” Klopp said of Diaz.
He confirmed defender Virgil van Dijk will be back after having missed Tuesday's 0-0 draw at Chelsea because of illness.
Liverpool plans to mark the 34th anniversary of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster with a minute's silence before kick-off.