First Team

“I’m not one to shy away”

VfL captain Maximilian Arnold speaks ahead of a busy week of Bundesliga and DFB Cup action.

After being left out of the starting line-up for the Wolves’ DFB Cup first-round tie at Makkabi Berlin at the start of the campaign, Maximilian Arnold then went on to miss the Bundesliga Matchday 1 clash with Heidenheim through illness. Since Matchday 3, however, the 29-year-old has played every minute for the Green-and-Whites in the top flight.

Speaking ahead of the first of two games in four days for Niko Kovac’s side – against Augsburg in the league and Leipzig in the cup – Arnold shares his thoughts on his difficult start to 2023/24, VfL’s two recent defeats, their upcoming opponents, and reveals whether he will step up to take the Wolves’ next penalty.
Maximilian, what did you make of VfL’s defeats to VfB Stuttgart and Bayer 04 Leverkusen in their last two games?
Maximilian Arnold: “It’s frustrating, because we actually played well but came away from both games empty-handed. Little things proved decisive in both matches. It’s a bit of a shame because there was more in it for us.”

With just under a quarter of the season gone, what’s your assessment so far?
Maximilian: “You can only really draw proper conclusions at the halfway point of the season, partly because a lot of new players have joined us and it takes time for the team to settle.”
At the start of the season, some people were saying the fierce competition in midfield might make things difficult for you – even as captain. How did you deal with that?
Maximilian: “It’s always tough when you’re not in the starting XI, but you learn a lot more from negative periods than when everything’s always positive. I’m not one to shy away from things or cause a big fuss. I prefer to try to face things head on. That’s exactly what I did.”
You’re now heading into an important week with league games at Augsburg and against Bremen, as well as a huge cup clash with holders Leipzig. How important are those games?
Maximilian: “In the league, every game is important. Augsburg have a new coach and won 5-2 in their first game under him. We’ll need to give it our all and keep the mistakes to a minimum. As for the Leipzig game, it’s crazy that we seem to play against them in the cup all the time (laughs). We’d happily face someone else every now and then.”
Your last game against Augsburg was a strange one for you: an own goal, a missed penalty – and then you played a key role in sparking the fightback in a 2-2 draw. Does that make this a special game for you?
Maximilian: “No, I’m not thinking about that and it isn’t something I care about. I see this as a game like any other. I just had a really bad game that day. At half-time, I left the changing room and went to the bathroom briefly to take a breather. At that moment, I’d have liked nothing better than to clear off somewhere, anywhere in the world and leave my mobile phone behind, but I managed to regain my composure quickly and tried to give it everything I’ve got in the second half.”
Let’s say you’re awarded a penalty against Augsburg. Will you take it?
Maximilian: “(laughs) If I’m feeling good, then yes. If not, I’m sure someone else will grab the ball.”