Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Arsene Wenger hits back at criticism but Jurgen Klopp can see funny side

German coach laughs off Gunners link as Alisher Usmanov demand is rejected

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The Independent Football

In Germany everything has an end, except a sausage, which has two. Welcome to the Jürgen Klopp stand-up show. Either the question about the injury crisis engulfing Borussia Dortmund was lost in translation or Klopp feels a degree of fellowship with the humour of Benny Hill.

Klopp’s default position ahead of the Champions League clash with Arsenal was to audition for the Edinburgh fringe. Perhaps if he didn’t laugh he’d cry. Like his counterpart at Arsenal, Arsène Wenger, Klopp can’t buy a win in the Bundesliga.

Dortmund have lost seven times in 12 outings and sit third from bottom. They surrendered a two-goal lead to draw at promoted Paderborn at the weekend and lost prize asset Marco Reus to boot.

The difference between the two is Klopp’s willingness to accept responsibility while Wenger blows raspberries at his critics. Klopp is seen by many as the man to whom Arsenal should look to take the club in a radical, new direction. There were suggestions he might move to the Premier League following an interview in Germany last week.

He laughed that off, too. “I thought it was a serious journalist,” he said. “For my sort of coaching I need the language. The only [foreign] language I can speak is English. That’s all I said. I don’t think about my future in this moment,” he added. “I don’t plan. If someone called me after I have finished at Dortmund then we can talk about it. I didn’t say I’m coming on Monday. I have unfinished business at Dortmund for sure.

 

“I feel responsible for this. It is easy to celebrate victory and be responsible for that. It is much more difficult to handle this feeling now because I am responsible. The faults are mine. I try to do my best here. That’s why I don’t think about anything else.”

Contrast that with the position of Wenger, who dismissed the criticisms of Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov – that the manager’s principles have become an obstacle to progress – and delivered a lesson on how to behave as a member of the Arsenal family.

“In the 18 years I’ve been here I’ve shown I can take criticism,” he said. “Everybody has the right to their opinion. Having said that we have values at this club. The first one is that when you go through a difficult patch you show solidarity. That is very important.

“The second one is that when we have something to say to each other we say it face to face. We don’t go to the newspapers. I don’t take it personally. It is an opinion I respect, but when you are from this club, you are from this club. You are in or out, you cannot be both.

“I believe in what I do and especially in my players, in their quality and their spirit. What is important is how close we are together inside the club and how we respond to people who question our quality. I feel this is a strong point in this club and that this team will have a very strong season.

“I am just frustrated and sad that people who love this club do not get the results they deserve and want. The players put so much energy in and don’t get rewarded. That’s my biggest concern.”

Wenger has a supporter in Aaron Ramsey, who believes Arsenal will show their quality against Dortmund. “We believe in ourselves, we have a great team spirit, we are not too concerned about what is said about us, we know what we are capable of doing. It’s just some fine-tuning.

“We had a good game against Man United in my opinion, created plenty of chances and on another day might have gone in two or three up at half-time, then it would have been a different game. It wasn’t to be. This is a great opportunity against Dortmund to put that right and to qualify. We are looking forward to it.”

Laurent Koscielny returns to the squad but there is no Wojciech Szczesny, Theo Walcott or Jack Wilshere, the latter’s loss much lamented by Wenger. “It is so sad because he just came back,” he said. “You see in the big games he has the personality. He is not scared to play and is ready to get the ball always.”

A point will secure Arsenal’s progress to the knockout stage, though a draw would be enough to clinch Dortmund’s passage as group-winners. But Klopp is not looking for that. “It’s not my plan to take the foot off the gas,” he said. “We need each game to get stability. If we can play well tomorrow it helps us in the Bundesliga on Sunday.”

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