By Nik Brumsack

Schalke manager Huub Stevens says he has great respect for what Arsène Wenger has achieved in his time as Arsenal boss.

Wenger has been with the Gunners for 16 years and is leading Arsenal in their 15th consecutive Champions League campaign.

Stevens, who is in his second spell in charge of Schalke, is impressed by that record and believes Wenger has done an excellent job since taking over from Bruce Rioch in 1996.

“It’s unbelievable that the man has done such a good job for so many years,” Stevens said at Tuesday’s press conference. “Every time he manages to bring through young players. It’s outstanding work that he’s done and I’m looking forward to seeing him tomorrow.

“I expect them to play as they have in their home games up until now, with a lot of pressure going forwards. I think they will try to do that tomorrow as well. It’s up to us to bring our quality.”

The threat posed by striker Lukas Podolski is one that the Schalke boss will be only too familiar with. Stevens managed the German international during his time in charge of FC Cologne, and says he was always destined for the top.

“He was 19 years old at the time,” Stevens said. “He was already an international player. I think you had to have quality [to be that].

“We played in the second division at the time and he was top goalscorer. I don’t remember how many goals he scored, but it was a lot. Lukas was an outstanding talent.

“Lukas is an emotional person, and I think you have to support him. I think in Wenger, he has a manager who understands that.”

And Stevens also reserved praise for another summer arrival, Santi Cazorla.

“I think he is the best,” he said. “He’s a very good technical player and he is a good passer. I think, for Arsenal he is very important. I know him and he is a very good player. It’s not only Cazorla. The other players are also very good.”

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24 Oct 2012