Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Arsene Wenger is the best manager in England, says Rafael Benitez

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (pictured)  has been praised by Rafael Benitez
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (pictured) has been praised by Rafael Benitez

Napoli boss Rafael Benitez is not surprised to see Arsenal at the top of the Barclays Premier League because they have the "best manager" in Arsene Wenger.

The Serie A side head to the Emirates Stadium tomorrow night looking to take a grip on Champions League Group F, with both clubs having won their opening European ties.

After losing their first domestic fixture at home to Aston Villa, Arsenal have since gone on a superb winning run to storm to the top of the table.

That Wenger masterminded such a turnaround – which included qualifying for the Champions League group stages once again and past West Brom in a penalty shoot-out in the Capital One Cup – comes as no surprise to the former Liverpool boss and Chelsea interim manager.

"I am expecting a strong team because I think Arsene Wenger is the best coach in the Premier League," said Benitez.

"They have signed good players, at this point everything going well for them.

"Wenger is a great manager, a great person, someone who knows the league here in England.

"He has experience in Europe, Arsenal is always top four and he is doing great job.

"Hopefully he can win (the Champions League), but another year, not this one. "

Benitez has been an interested observer on the opening few weeks of the new English season, which has seen both Manchester United and Manchester City suffer an inconsistent start, while Southampton are in the top four.

"Arsenal have great manager and a good team, Liverpool – they continue growing, so the second year with a new manager, every body is expecting them to be in the top four and are doing well," he said.

"The other top sides are not at the level at the moment, but I think it will only be a matter of time before you see five or six teams at the top, who will be more or less the same (as before)."

Benitez maintains his time at Stamford Bridge is now very much water under the bridge.

"I am pleased, because we won. We finished in top three, which was the target and won the Europa League," he said.

"The majority of professionals and the people who followed the team every day could see that we were trying to do our best and we did a good job in the end."

Benitez feels more than comfortable in his new surroundings.

"It is a nice place, nice fans with lot of passion and commitment, very similar to Liverpool in terms of the passion for the team who enjoy football," he said.

"You see it everywhere, in the city and the workers when they go to the stadium love the team. That is why it has been easy for me.

"The players work very hard, so there is a lot of positives now.

"After 26 years of coaching around the world, you have to adapt and you have to enjoy it when you have an opportunity to manage at a team like Napoli in the Champions League and challenging for the Serie A title.

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