Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund
UEFA Champions League
Kick off: October 22, 2013 7:45 PM BST
The upcoming clash against Borussia Dortmund signals the start of a very testing period for the Gunners. And what a start it will be, with the match against the German club being lauded as a potential blockbuster. Arsenal go into the tie on the back of an emphatic 4-1 win over the Canaries and top of the Premier League, while Dortmund have been just as impressive in the Bundesliga registering 7 wins, 1 draw and a solitary loss in their opening 9 games.
However, while Arsenal are in great form, one potentially significant problem from the match against Norwich was that midfield enforcer Mathieu Flamini suffered a concussion. Wenger has confirmed the Frenchman will be out of action at least until the weekend, which raises some concerns about the balance of the team, particularly against such a lethal team as Dortmund.
At the weekend, I felt when Flamini departed the field the momentum of the match shifted and Norwich were able to more freely attack. While eventually Arsenal showed their class, it does raise questions over whether the Gunners will be able to effectively contain the likes of Reus, Lewandowski and Mkhitaryan, particularly when you factor in the Gunners have only managed two clean sheets this season
While Flamini represents the only absentee from the match at the weekend, Arsene has hinted that there may be potential for rotation. From the starting eleven at the weekend, the only obvious rotation may be Santi Cazorla who may be afforded a rest after only just making his return from injury. Wenger has confirmed that the Spaniard does lack match fitness, but I am hoping the little maestro will feature from the first whistle. The rest of the team is likely to remain unchanged, aside of course from Ramsey who will take Flamini’s starting berth.
Looking at Borussia Dortmund, it seems this is as good as a time as any to face the high-flying German club. Key injuries to Ilkey Gundogan and Lukasz Piszczek weigh nicely in Arsenal’s favour, while the team itself seems to be slightly down on form after registering an unconvincing win against Hannover at the weekend and suffering their first loss of their Bundesliga campaign the game before.
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While approaching this tie from a neutral perspective you feel it could go either way, I am optimistic that Arsenal will be able to edge the visitors. The Gunners are extremely high on confidence, playing beautiful football and more importantly have looked like a unified team. Hopefully we continue that 100% record in the group stage and get that much closer to progressing to the next round.
allArsenal’s Predicted Line-up:
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs
Arsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 1