Dortmund v Arsenal
UEFA Champions League
Kick off: November 5, 2013 7:45 PM BST
After our home leg against Borussia Dortmund came to a sudden and disappointing end, despite us arguably being the better team, today’s return game is a chance to set things right. Had we won, or even held on for the draw, we would be comfortably in control of the group. As it stands however, this is not a game we can afford to lose if we are to have any hope of topping the group.
Our history against Dortmund is not bad, we have however, never won at the Westfalenstadion. Dortmund have a fantastic set of supporters, so we will need our travelling fans to be at their best, and their most vocal.
The German side are defensively solid, and superb on the counter attack. So despite being at home, they may allow us the bulk of the possession, pressing hard in their own half, and trying to hit us on the break. In the home leg, both goals conceded were more down to defensive mistakes rather than Dortmund’s attacking prowess, so if we can cut out these individual errors and misjudgements, then I see no reason why we can’t take all three points off last years Champions League runners up.
We are coming off the back of a superb 2-0 victory over Liverpool in a Premier League battle for first place, which is sure to boost the confidence of the players. Playing away against Dortmund is likely to be a sterner test, but with our recent form you certainly wouldn’t bet against us.
In terms of squad availability, we’ve heard plenty over the last few days about the condition of Jack Wilshere. He hasn’t travelled with the squad to Germany, and may not even be available for the weekend’s clash with Manchester United. Flamini is still unavailable due to the groin injury he sustained in the game against Palace, but if Arteta can repeat his Man of the Match performance from the weekend, then I don’t feel he will be missed as much as many seem to think. Gibbs suffered a calf strain towards the end of the Liverpool game, but Wenger announced earlier today that he was available for today’s clash. Gnabry and Eisfeld have also travelled with the team, and one if not both are likely to start on the bench.
With the news that Gibbs is fit and available, it’s possible we will see an unchanged side from the weekend. I think it’s still likely that Wenger will start with Monreal however, not wanting to risk the young Englishmen’s fitness, despite our back four developing a fantastic understanding recently.
Koscielny and Mertesacker were first class this weekend, and they will need to be again to deal with Dortmund’s prolific striker, Robert Lewandowski. The Polish front man is in scintillating form at the moment, and has been for some time. He scored a hat trick in their last game against Stuttgart, so we can’t be giving him needless chances the way we did in our last meeting.
With our lack of pace and natural wide men available at the moment, we will have to make sure our passing in the final third is of the highest order, and ensure that we take our chances when they come. There will be times when Dortmund will sit back and soak up pressure, putting less pressure on our defenders and holding midfielders, they will have to guard against complacency at these points, and stay alert to the German’s lightning fast counter attacks.
A win today would put us on nine points, and would go a long way towards our aspirations of topping the group. A draw would still see us in contention for the top spot, but would probably leave us needing to win both our final games. While a loss would more than likely put an end to these ambitions, having to settle instead for a run at second place.
Both Arsenal and Dortmund are in fantastic form at the moment, placed first and second respectively, in both their leagues and Champions League group. This is certainly going to be a tough fixture, but I have confidence in the team, and high hopes that we can return home with the win.
Wenger revealed the following team news:
[on Jack Wilshere] As you know he has not travelled because he has not practised. I will know more on Thursday when he has another test. If that is not a success he will definitely be out for Sunday, if he is out for Sunday he will be out for England as well.
[on other team news] Gnabry has travelled and is in the squad. Walcott is not far, he should be back soon after the break and Flamini has a good chance to be available on Sunday. Gibbs has travelled and should be available. Eisfield, he was with us this morning in training.
Last 5 Results
1 Nov 2013 Borussia Dortmund 6 – VfB Stuttgart 1 BUN
26 Oct 2013 FC Schalke 04 1 – Borussia Dortmund 3 BUN
22 Oct 2013 Arsenal FC 1 – Borussia Dortmund 2 UCL
19 Oct 2013 Borussia Dortmund 1 – Hannover 96 0 BUN
5 Oct 2013 B. Mönchengladbach 2 – Borussia Dortmund 0 BUN
2 Nov 2013 Arsenal FC 2 – Liverpool 0 EPL
29 Oct 2013 Arsenal FC 0 – Chelsea FC 2 CCUP
26 Oct 2013 Crystal Palace 0 – Arsenal FC 2 EPL
22 Oct 2013 Arsenal FC 1 – Borussia Dortmund 2 UCL
19 Oct 2013 Arsenal FC 4 – Norwich City 1 EPL
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs (/Monreal)
Arteta (c) Ramsey
Borussia Dortmund 1 vs 2 Arsenal