Jens Lehmann's anger is not only acceptable but understandable, according to Arsène Wenger.

The Arsenal keeper was quoted this week as saying the Club's Champions League exit was "a disaster" especially as he had been watching it from the substitutes' bench. Manuel Almunia has taken over the No 1 spot this season and the Spaniard's future seems assured after he signed a new long-term contract last week.

However, speaking at Friday's press conference, the Arsenal manager maintained that Lehmann's irritation was perfectly normal for a player out of the side and he still enjoys a cordial relationship with the 38-year-old German.

"I have never had one disrespectful argument with Jens," said Wenger. "I have had arguments yes, but always full of respect. Frankly I don't need the newspapers to learn that he is angry because he doesn't play. But I make my decision and that is nothing to do with Jens' personality.
"What is important for me is that he works every day like mad to win his place. I prefer someone like that than someone who doesn't talk and doesn't produce. Every day, at 9.30am, he is in the gym. When he goes out, he gives 100 per cent. I respect that. 

"He fights to get his place. I don't expect him to say 'yes I am very happy that I don't play'. He doesn't play, he is unhappy. But he did know that and he decided to stay. I told him 'if you stay, you might not play'."

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11 Apr 2008