Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund: Jürgen Klopp proves he is the master of reinvention

 

Borussia Dortmund are not going anywhere. Jürgen Klopp’s team, who have a well-earned reputation for being Europe’s most exciting, might just be the most resilient, too.

Not in the sense of grinding out wins on the pitch, but in terms of Dortmund’s remarkable consistency at the top level despite the constant loss of players. They have had to cope with the departures of Nuri Sahin, Shinji Kagawa and Mario Götze in three consecutive summers but have not let it affect their quality or their style. Last season they lost their German title but they did reach the Champions League final – which they lost in the final minute to Bayern Munich.

Klopp has had to pay a price for running Bayern so close and wounding their pride, as they activated Götze’s release clause in the summer, and are close to a deal to sign Robert Lewandowski for free at the end of this season. But Klopp’s focus is relentlessly optimistic. This summer Dortmund signed Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (see panel, right), and now they are just one point behind Bayern in the Bundesliga. They also beat their closest rivals 4-2 to take the German Super Cup in August.

“It is not important to think like this,” Klopp said yesterday about losing Götze. “Not important to think about the players you lose, it is important to think about the teams you have. Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Sokratis, [Jonas] Hofmann, [Erik] Durm, [Marvin] Ducksch, in the future you will know them, they are part of the new team. We have to get better every day. [Tonight] will have to be one of our best games ever.”

As good a player as Götze is, Mkhitaryan has replaced him well as an intelligent No 10, while Aubameyang and Marco Reus provide more than enough pace and incision on the flanks. Dortmund are the Bundesliga’s top scorers, with 22 goals in nine games. Reus and Aubameyang have eight and six respectively in all competitions. Lewandowski, as sharp as ever, has nine in 12. The one frustration was their 2-1 defeat at Napoli, in which Klopp was so angry with the fourth official he is banned from the touchline tonight.

At the base of their midfield Dortmund have Sahin back, the man who left for Real Madrid in 2011 but is now fully re-integrated in their system. “It didn’t take me that long,” Sahin said yesterday, at the ground of the team he nearly joined on loan instead of Liverpool last summer. “I knew it would come, I had the support of the team and the coach and I know the style of the game.”

Klopp knows how far his team have come, speaking about how there were at least four times as many people outside his team’s London hotel as there were before this fixture in November 2011. “We know people have respect for us now.” He has always been full of admiration for Arsène Wenger, though, as he made clear yesterday.

“I like Wenger football, when I watch as a supporter, this is the most beautiful style of football you can watch. Two or three months ago, everybody wanted Arsène to spend £80m, but he didn’t find the right player, then he took Mathieu Flamini for zero – good idea – and then Mesut [Özil] for some money.

“This team missed one player, maybe that could be Özil. He is technically perfect, fast, with a drive to goal and very intelligent. It was a great idea from Arsenal, not so great from the team who let him go. One year ago, no one could imagine they could play brilliant football without [Santi] Cazorla.”

Klopp is so impressed by Arsenal that even he is not banking on a win tonight. “It is a ‘joker game’, if you take some points it will be great, we have nothing else to do so we will try and take all of them.”

Rebuilding Dortmund: Klopp’s recruits

HENRIKH MKHITARYAN

With Mario Götze gone, Dortmund needed a new No 10 and signed Mkhitaryan, who LIverpool also wanted, from Shakhtar Donetsk. ‘Mikhi’ scored two lovely goals in a recent 2-1 win in Frankfurt.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG

Bought from St-Etienne, Aubameyang is a winger with pace, perfectly suited to Dortmund’s counter-attacking style. He has six league goals so far and scored a hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut against Augsburg.

SOKRATIS PAPASTATHOPOULOS

The Greece international centre-back, another Liverpool target, joined from Werder Bremen for £8m.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam