Klopp Reign Shows Need for Patience in Arsenal Project

Jurgen Klopp announced this morning that he would be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season. A huge shock to the sporting world, the German has decided to call time on his illustrious Anfield career, and will be hoping to bring home a record-equalling 20th league title as a bid farewell. Arsenal and the chasing pack however, will be hoping to spoil the party.
The timing of the announcement feels poignant, with a clear desire to galvanise the squad and push them on to clinch the title for their departing boss. While the watching world would love nothing more than to see Klopp raising the Premier League title aloft, Arsenal will be hoping that their own project will elevate them to the standard they believe they are capable of reaching. 

It is natural that comparisons be made between the trajectory that Arsenal currently find themselves on and that of Merseysiders. Mikel Arteta finds himself four years into his own project, and with just one FA Cup to show, it might feel a tall order to measure the Spaniard against Klopp. However, the German took until his third season to really take off in English football. 

German Arrival

He arrived in 2015, following a seven year spell with Borussia Dortmund where he twice won the Bundesliga. He is a manager who is not around for the short term, preferring to fully immerse himself with all elements of a club and culture. The 54-year-old has managed just three clubs during his career, with the other being Mainz 05, where he also spent 11 years as a player. It is this commitment and loyalty that truly separates him from the manager of the modern day. 

Rarely are coaches nowadays afforded the time that Klopp has been given during his three managerial posts. But it is time that has served Liverpool well over the past nine years, a period where the Reds have won everything on both the domestic and European stage.

In his first six months at the club, Liverpool reached both the League Cup and Europa League final, losing out marginally in both. It felt though like a matter of time before Klopp turned those narrow misses into successes, and he duly delivered in the 2018/19 season, when Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League Final. It can be said with certainty that all Arsenal fans will feel forever indebted to Klopp for this feat alone.

In any other era, Liverpool would have certainly also claimed the Premier League crown that season, amassing a staggering 97 points yet still falling short to Manchester City. The following season, he finally achieved what Liverpool had failed to do since the 1980s, and that was to win their elusive 19th league title. Since then, they have continued to be a dominant force in English and European football, collecting a number of other trophies. 

Klopp vs Wenger

Klopp's reign pales into insignificance when measured against the longevity of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, but the likes of those are unlikely to be seen again. Perhaps there is something to be made though in a comparison between Wenger and the aforementioned German, or as once defined by Klopp himself, an orchestra vs heavy metal. 

There was a clear difference between the respective playing styles of the two managers, but their impacts on their respective clubs link them tangibly. Wenger was a visionary, and his early years at the club transformed Arsenal into something special. Arriving in 1996, Wenger won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups in the nine years that followed. 

Arsenal though began to stagnate under the financial restrictions of the move to the Emirates Stadium, and wouldn't win another trophy until 2014. This point, or even the 2015 FA Cup victory over Aston Villa, felt the time for Wenger to step aside. He remained at the club until 2018, with Arsenal struggling to compete at the top table. Klopp however, appears to be leaving on a high. His Liverpool side currently sit top of the Premier League, remain in the FA Cup and Europa League, and have a League Cup final to look forward to at the end of February. 

Arteta Rivalry

It will be an announcement that will be welcomed by many opposing supporters. Arsenal have certainly been held to the sword by Klopp's Liverpool more times that we would care to admit. There is though, cause for optimism in North London, with recent performances suggesting that Arteta is getting closer to the level that Klopp has set.

It wasn't long ago that when Arsenal faced a Liverpool side, there was an expectation that the result was something of a formality. Just three years ago, Arteta and Klopp clashed on the touchline, in a game that Liverpool went onto win 4-0. The Arsenal manager clearly had the fight, but his side simply weren't ready. Now though, Arenal are competing, and it shows the progress that they have made in a relatively short period of time. 

Much like Arsenal when Arteta took over, Liverpool appeared to be without an identity prior to the arrival of Klopp. Brendan Rogers had briefly resurrected the belief that had been sapped away under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, but in truth Liverpool felt rudderless. Upon Klopp's appointment, he took his new side to White Hart Lane, where his philosophy was immediately apparent; high-pressing heavy-metal football. He may have only picked up a point on that day in a 0-0 draw, but the plan was clear for all to see. 

Final Farewell

Arsenal welcome Klopp's Liverpool to the Emirates in just over a week, and will be hoping to pick up a win to reduce the gap at the top of the table. Will the end of the season represent a fond farewell for Klopp in the Premier League? Or will Arteta take Arsenal out of the shadows to rain on the parade?