Two weeks ago, everything was going fantastically for Arsenal. Well positioned in all four competitions, there was even a slight chance that they could obtain the quadruple. Then they went and lost to Birmingham after that mix-up, and we all know what happened at the Nou Camp on Tuesday. They face a mouth watering trip to Old Trafford this afternoon and if all does not go well, questions about Arsene Wenger’s future will be asked.
Indeed, some were calling for Wenger’s head after the Carling Cup defeat. This is all well and good, but many of these men would not perhaps be able to suggest a suitable replacement for the 61 year-old Frenchman. Take a quick look round the top leagues in Europe and one league in particular stands out. The German Bundesliga standings are incredible: not because four or five teams still have a chance of winning, but because one side are unbelievably far ahead.
Borussia Dortmund find themselves twelve points in front of their nearest challengers Bayer Leverkusen with only nine games to play. Their team is not filled with star players, and not many are household names, partially because not many of the squad were signed for much money. Without doubt, much of the credit for their rise to the top must go to manager Jürgen Klopp.
Klopp would be well suited to Arsenal in many ways. Much of his side were developed at Dortmund’s own youth system, examples being Mario Götze, who has been linked with both Arsenal and Manchester United, and Nuri Sahin, already an accomplished Turkish national player at the tender age of 22. Arsenal of course are keen to nurture youth, a trend that Wenger has stuck to too vigorously for the liking of some fans.
Klopp, however, has found immediate success with his youthful side. This is illustrated by their central defensive partnership. Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic are only 22, but together they have almost formed an impenetrable barrier this year. Unbelievably, Dortmund have conceded only 14 goals all season, less than half than any other side. They are not, however, one dimensional: Dortmund are also the joint top-scorers.
One reason for this is main striker Lucas Barrios, who demonstrates Klopp’s eye for a talented player. The Paraguayan was signed for just €4.2 million, and was the top-scorer in the Bundesliga in his first season. In addition, it was Klopp who signed Hummels, initially on loan, from Bayern Munich, and he also took Subotic with him when he moved from Mainz 05.
Whether Arsenal need a new manager is highly debatable. Although this would in theory be a sixth successive season without a trophy, Wenger is undisputedly one of the best managers of his generation. But Klopp would surely be a strong contender the Arsenal job if Wenger was to be moved on. One potential problem would be the language barrier, but there is no denying Klopp’s obvious qualities.