Wenger's Arsenal will be the real deal with win at Anfield, says Richard Buxton
Klopp hopes to find his groove; Wenger needs one last encore
LIVERPOOL v ARSENAL
(Tomorrow, 4am, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
Like the late David Bowie, Arsene Wenger is eyeing a final masterpiece before he steps away from the spotlight.
It was poignant when the Arsenal manager was sought out to be the English Premier League's spokesman to mark the shock passing of the rock star, two-and-a-half years his senior.
The legacy of Wenger's title-winning teams continues to grow, not unlike the way Bowie's back catalogue has remained highly sought after.
Now, in the 12th year since the Gunners' last domestic triumph, Wenger must again deliver a resounding, if belated, encore, and ensure the side comes away from Anfield tomorrow morning (Singapore time) with three league points.
Like Wenger all those years ago, Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp is feeling his way through English football and being forced to cut his managerial cloth accordingly.
Wenger's evolution was tempered by dressing room malcontents and fiduciary obligation.
Yet, through it all, he has consistently assembled an Arsenal side equipped to battle the best.
When Arsenal visit Anfield, Wenger will begin to discover whether the current crop is good enough to be the next group of champions.
As Klopp attempts to find his groove, Arsenal have been afforded a glimpse of what might have been in Wenger's absence.
Once touted as his long-term successor, the German has discovered life in the EPL is harsh and unforgiving compared to the home comforts of his native Bundesliga.
With no winter break, Liverpool's mounting casualty list has laid bare the extent to which they have struggled to acclimatise to the demands of Klopp's brand of high-intensity "Gegenpressing" football that was the bedrock of his glory days at Dortmund.
Transition very much remains this season's watchword at Anfield.
With contrasting management styles, Klopp at Arsenal would have been a mismatch.
The 48-year-old perhaps summed it up best when, in 2013, he likened the pair's philosophies as an orchestra meeting heavy metal.
When the two managers renew acquaintances at Anfield, that ear-splitting cacophony will once again play out.
Klopp may like it loud but it is Wenger's "silent song" that is currently triumphing.
Arsenal are far from the world-class symphony of the "Invincibles" era, but in the likes of Mesut Oezil and Alexis Sanchez, they finally boast players capable of holding a candle to the class of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires et al.
These threaten to be testing times for Wenger's title ambitions. Trips to Liverpool and Stoke, coupled with the visit of Chelsea over the next 12 days, would ordinarily yield a return of between seven and nine points for veritable champions-elect.
This, however, has been far from an ordinary EPL season and Arsenal remain far from ordinary title contenders.
Rising to the occasion is a trait which has eluded Wenger's players down the years.
It has often been the hope that kills them.
Should it do so again, the veteran Frenchman will be forced to re-evaluate just how much more powers of transformation is left in his tank.