LONDON (AFP) - Napoli manager Rafael Benitez hailed Arsene Wenger as the best boss in the Premier League ahead of his side's Champions League clash against Arsenal on Tuesday.
After losing their first domestic fixture at home to Aston Villa, Arsenal have since gone on a five-match winning run to storm to the top of the table, while also qualifying once again for the Champions League group stages.
Arsenal's success has silenced Wenger's critics, who were crying out for his dismissal following eight years without a trophy.
But former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Benitez claimed he has never been in doubt about Wenger's qualities after watching him at close quarters during his time in England.
"I am expecting a strong team because I think Arsene Wenger is the best coach in the Premier League," said Benitez on Monday.
"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, who was replaced by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea following his spell as interim boss last season, 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 a 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, they have new managers too, 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)."