The last time these two sides met was in the group stages of the 2002-2003 Champions League, Arsenal emerged victorious on that day at Highbury. Both teams have made an uninspiring starts to their domestic seasons, and will be looking to turn it around in Europe.
Arsenal come to Germany after an unconvincing 1-nil win against Premier League newbies Swansea City, they will have to step up the performance if they want a result against Dortmund. New signings Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta made their Gunner’s debut on Saturday, along with Yossi Benyaoun making a substitute appearance later on, they all impressed Wenger but didn’t have the required impact that many Arsenal fans were looking for.
Regular starter Aaron Ramsey and experience-head Rosicky failed to make the flight to Germany with injuries depriving Wenger of a further two more midfield options. Gervinho and Song however return from domestic suspensions which will inevitably strengthen the Gunners, and Santos is ready to make his debut in red and white if required.
Borussia Dortmund have had a torrid start to the season, they recently suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Hertha Berlin on Saturday leaving them lying in 11th place after five games. Mario Gotze however, will be returning to the fold following his domestic suspension, and the 19-year-old will be keen to impress after Arsenal had a summer bid turned down by Dortmund towards the end of the transfer window.
Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp is likely to select an unchanged line-up from Saturday, having named the same back four in his sides last three outings. When BVB are on form, they can be threatening and have the ability to down Arsenal at home, but their inexperience in the Champions League and domestic form currently say otherwise.
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A draw is highly likely between the two out of form teams, Dortmund are judged to be the favourites by the bookies, but Arsenal’s consistency in the Champions League and their ability to grind out results despite squad-depletion will take it tough for the German outfit to beat the Gunners. Don’t be surprised if this fixture ends in a stalemate.
Borussia Dortmund 1 v Arsenal 1
Dortmund : LDWLW
(UCL in red)
On his match ban:
“Overall, there is no difference until we arrive at the stadium,” he said. “It’s not ideal in the first game, especially because I don’t understand anymore what the rules are.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he went on. “I just did what I was told I could do. I asked before the game what I could do. If I wanted to do something forbidden, I would not have shown it openly. I still don’t understand why I am suspended but [then] I didn’t understand why I was suspended the first time.”
On whether this years group draw is the toughest he’s faced:
“Especially because Pot Four gave us Dortmund,” the boss said. “That’s why it is very difficult – Marseille, Dortmund and Olympiacos.
“Sometimes you discover the real difficulty when you are in it and when we play the games.
On the importance of an away win tomrrow night:
“It would create a certainty that we have a good chance to go through,” Wenger said. “For us to get a positive result tomorrow night would be a big lift.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to get positive vibes and we need a bit of that. Every team, no matter how good they are, needs confidence and I believe my team needs that at the moment.”
On the Gunners recent UCL away form:
“For a long time we were quite successful away from home in the Champions League, it was just last season,” he said.
“Last year we had an early nine points and we dropped points after that, especially the game in Braga when we were really unlucky.
“If you get the records of all the managers playing away in the Champions League they are roughly the same.”
Arsenal: Gervinho – After his red card in his first Premier League outing, the Ivorian has been restricted to the two UCL qualifying matches. He has impressed during the minutes he’s played, with fresh legs and more time to adapt to Arsenal’s fluidity, this will be a big game for the winger.
Borussia Dortmund: Mario Gotze – has become a huge young prospect in Europe after staking his claim in the German international side, he will undoubtedly be Dortmund’s main man.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Gervinho Van Persie (c) Arshavin
Ramsey and Rosicky had been expected to make the trip to Germany, but both are carrying niggling injuries so will stay behind. Long term absentees include Vermaelen, Wilshere and Diaby. Song and Gervinho return from suspension and will be in contention, while newbies Arteta and Mertesacker will take their place once again in the lineup. Gibbs should retain his place, however Santos could make his first Arsenal start.
The main question mark remains in the midfield selection and whether Benayoun will make his first start for Arsenal after making a substitute appearance on the weekend. With Ramsey and Rosicky both pulling out, it looks like either Benayoun or Frimpong will come in, however Benayoun will provide more experience and much needed creativity into the centre of the park.
more to follow…
Travelling squad: Szczesny, Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Djourou, Gibbs, Santos, Song, Frimpong, Arshavin, Walcott, Arteta, Benayoun, Gervinho, Park, Chamakh, Van Persie