Borussia Dortmund vArsenal
Borussia Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer lit the blue touch paper ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash with Arsenal by branding the Gunners “arrogant” and “divers” in English newspaper the News of the World.
Sammer claims his players were incensed by the attitude of the Arsenal players after Dortmund were beaten 2-0 at Highbury last month.
“A lot ofmy players came away from Arsenal wanting to knock the arrogance off the faces of some of the Arsenal players,” he said.
The former German international also claimed Arsenal used dirty tricks – particularly diving – to con the referee.
“It would be justice if we win because we felt certain people were guilty of diving – not only to gain free-kicks but also to get my players in trouble. The referee seemed convinced by their acting,” he revealed.
“One individual has been talked about, both in the Premiership and Europe,for two seasons now. He goes down like he’s been shot, only to get up moments later, and this causes great anger.”
“These things remain firmly in your mind and that’s why we are out for revenge,” Sammer promised.
Sammer has since distanced himself from the report, saying the quotes were made up, but creative journalism or not, it won’t have gone unnoticed in the Arsenal changing room.
Arsenal failed to clinch qualification last week, after they were surprisingly beaten at home by Auxerre, and a Dortmund victory tomorrow night would seethe Germans leapfrog the Gunners into top spot.
Arsene Wenger’s side are in a mini-crisis at present, losing three games on the trot, but the French coach is confident that tonight’s potentially explosive clash will provide the perfect platform for a return to form.
“Of course everyone is very concerned but this team is highly committed and I’m very confident that we will come back even stronger after our bad patch,” said Wenger.
“I believe we have a good togetherness, a good mental strength and we have known this kind of situation before,” he added.
“I’m very positive because the team are very concerned and committed. We will stick together more than ever and respond in the next game.”
“This is a team of winners – you don’t lose your winning streak in two days or in one week,” Wenger said.
In contrast, Dortmund are flying after seeing off Werder Bremen 4-1 on Saturday, an important psychological boost ahead of tonight’s game.
“It was important that we were able towin so convincingly over good opposition on the weekend as that allows us to approach this crucial match against Arsenal in high spirits and with added stability,” commented skipper Stefan Reuter.
Jorg Reinrich is back for Dortmund, who may prefer the more attack minded Lars Ricken to Reuter.
Arsenal have no new injury worries, but Dennis Bergkamp stays at home due to his phobia of flying. Patrick Vieira will return after missing Saturday’s game with Blackburn through suspension, but Robert Pires is expected to stay on the bench.
Probable Line Ups:
Dortmund: Lehmann; Evanilson, Worns, Metzelder, Dede; Ricken/Reuter, Kehl, Frings, Rosicky, Koller, Ewerthon.
Arsenal: Seaman; Lauren, Campbell, Cygan, Cole; Ljungberg, Gilberto, Vieira, Wiltord; Henry, Kanu.
PSV Eindhoven v Auxerre
Auxerre well and truly pulled a rabbit out of the hat last week when beating Arsenal at Highbury, and as a result have now given themselves a fighting chance of qualification.
The French side still trail second placed Dortmund by three points and will have to rely on other results going their way to qualify. But depending on the outcome of the German side’s prove to be decisive.
“To qualify we probably have to win our last two games, but I think that’s possible,” claimed Yann Lachuer, caption of Le Championnat leaders.
The return from injury of much coveted strike sensation Djibril Cisse will help Auxerre’s cause no end, something Lachuer recognises.
“Djibril can give us the lift we need. He isa world class player – his mere presence instills fear in opposition defences.”
But in welcoming back the 21 year-old Cisse, Auxerre have had to temporarily make do without highly rated defender Phillipe Mexes, who pulled a thigh muscle at the weekend. PSV are bottom of Group A, and a Dortmund win would eliminate them from the competition, but coach Guus Hiddink is eager to show his side are capable of performing at this level.
“It is our third Champions League game at home, but this one is very special indeed. We have to rectify a few things at home.” conceded Hiddink. The Dutch side have been in indifferent form recently, but a 5-0 triumph at NEC at the weekend has restored confidence once more.
“In the nationalleague we started brightly and after some poor performances we are back on the right track,” he said.
Despite theprobability that PSV will not qualify, Hiddink will be wanting to take as much as possible from their final two games, but is aware that the French league leaders will provide a very stiff test for his side.
“Auxerre are a strong side technically and tactically and dare to play counter football at home as well,”Hiddink said.
“Wednesday they will probably have this same tactical plan and we really should be very careful notto be trapped by them. We have learned that we must play in a disciplined way and that we must never underestimate any situation,” he continued.
PSV bring back key defender Kevin Hoflund, but there are still doubts over Remco van der Schaaf and Michael Lamey, who both missed Saturday’s big win.