After the splendid Saturday victory over Norwich, crowned with the most beautiful goal an Arsenal player has scored since Dennis Bergkamp’s impossible goal against Newcastle in 2002, our attention turns to the Champions’ League fixture against Borussia Dortmund.
The Germans were runners-up in the competition last term and have been one of the best teams in the world for the last three years. Their football is fast, direct and mostly too hot to handle. Most of their opponents are powerless to defend against the attacking triangles enforced by Robert Lewandowski’s extraordinary link-up-ability. The Polish striker has been connected with many English clubs, but despite the strong rumours the Pole will follow the path of his former team-mate Mario Götze and sign a contract with reigning champions of Germany and Europe FC Bayern.
Even if Lewandowski leaves Borussia Dortmund (in January for some fee or next June for free), they have another excellent striker in their ranks. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is arguably one of the fastest players in the world and has already shown his goal-scoring abilities. The Gabonese striker is yet to show his consistency though as he has scored his five Bundesliga goals in just two out of nine appearances.
And, it’s not just two of them that will represent danger for Szczesny. Marco Reus in an Arsenal shirt is an image from a wet dream of many Gooners regardless of their sexual orientation. Reus, arguably one of the best German players, has been nothing short of brilliant for both Borussia’s he has played for. He is dangerous from both inside and outside the area. His versatility and ability to play every attacking role make his release clause set around €35 million a bargain.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was one of the hottest transfer options last summer and opted to sign for Borussia. With Flamini’s absence, there might be a lot of problems for our defence without the combative Frenchman around. Their biggest threat stems from the fact that ten of their eleven players represent danger as whole team attacking unit. Central defenders Hummels and Subotić are no exception with the former one of the most respected central defenders in the world. Their right flank is a bit weaker due to the absence of right full-back Piszczek while Ilkay Gündogan, a player that Wenger and many Gooners would like to see in an Arsenal shirt, is also set to miss the big clash.
They are not unbeatable though. The Germans’ attacking style of football leaves some space for opponents who can exploit them and their central defenders are prone to mistakes from time to time. Their goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller is sometimes dubbed as Weidenfehler (“Fehler” can be translated as “error, fault, mistake”) due to his calamities. Mesut Özil scored an equalizer against Borussia Dortmund with a last-minute free-kick in the Group Stage last season and created three more Real Madrid goals against the Germans in four matches between the sides. Özil has scored three goals and created five more in 12 outings against Borussia Dortmund which bodes well for Arsenal’s hopes.
Here are some of the reasons why we should beat Borussia Dortmund tomorrow.
1.We would probably secure progression to the Knockout Stage.
With nine points from three games we would sit firmly on top of our group. Borussia would be six points behind with only three games to go while Napoli would have to gain all six points against Marseille in order to stay close to us which might turn out to be a tall order for them. Given that Borussia and Napoli have to play each other one more time, a victory tomorrow should be enough to secure our ticket for the next round.
2.We would relieve ourselves ahead of The Dirty Dozen Days that follows.
After our next league fixture against Crystal Palace, we will have to play Chelsea (home) in the Capital One Cup, Liverpool (home) in the Premier League, Borussia Dortmund (away) in the Champions’ League and Manchester United (home) in the Premier League in the space of just 12 days. Given that the domestic competitions will give us a lot of tough matches, it would be great to partially relieve ourselves on the European front at least. With a victory tomorrow, our away tie against Borussia Dortmund wouldn’t bear as much pressure, our most important players would be able to rest and focus on our domestic derbies.
3.It might make Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gündogan and Marco Reus easier to lure to Emirates.
We have been linked with Borussia Dortmund’s top players for some time and beating them in the head-to-head fixture is the best way to show what Arsenal are made of. When I mention Dortmund’s top players, I especially mean Robert Lewandowski as he is closest to the exit door and we are a bit short when it comes to strikers. Lewandowski is just 25 and he would have an outstanding impact with the midfielders we have on our disposal.
4.They are Klopp-less tomorrow.
One of the best managers in the world is suspended for tomorrow’s match due to a touchline-ban, another advantage for us.
5.It would be a major proof this team can aim for trophies this season and a major boost in front of The Dirty Dozen Days.
Yes, we are top of the table at the moment, we have beaten big spenders like Spuds and Napoli already but Borussia Dortmund – unlike those two teams – represent the highest quality. If we manage to beat them, players will know they can beat Chelsea, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs as the Bundesliga are another level above the aforementioned English clubs.