We travel to Dortmund today to play in arguably one of the toughest stadiums to visit in Europe – the Signal Iduna Park or Westfalenstadion depending on your preference. This game will be the pick of the fixtures for many neutrals tonight and promises to be another close fought encounter following Borussia Dortmund’s victory at The Emirates a few weeks ago.
I can’t help but fall in love with Jurgen Klopp the more I read up on him. I know that’s a real ‘hipster’ thing to say but if you can find a manager with more respect for The Arsenal and Sir Arsene Wenger as the German calls him, I challenge you to show me him. It’s no wonder with statements such as ‘He is really something. I love him. He is Sir Arsene Wenger. He is “hello (making a handshake gesture)”. I’m this guy,’ Klopp continues as he high-fives the air. ‘But he likes having the ball, playing football, passes… it’s like an orchestra,’ he adds, gesturing as if playing a violin, ‘but it is a silent song. I like heavy metal more. I always want it loud.’ that so many of our fans are calling for him to be the man to succeed Arsene. He may have a point in his analogy, we do play the classiest brand of football on the planet, we do play passes, we do play out from defence; but only when we want to. I read Lee Hurley of LadyArse’s article in The Metro in the week on why Arsenal are the only club to be able to ruin our title chase and agreed with several of the points raised. We need consistency in our performances, we need to be able to hold our heads high and not worry when we do get beaten, something we have done since our defeat to Dortmund.
As long as we turn up today, and I believe we will, Dortmund are in for a game. We don’t seem to fear anyone at the moment, although Arsene’s comments on us being ‘naive’ at The Emirates were again, spot on. We need to be more ruthless and one thing that I enjoy watching about Borussia Dortmund is their pressing. They adopt an almost Barcelona style ‘five second press’; when not in possession every player spends five seconds closing down the ball to try to regain possession and if after five seconds the ball has not been retrieved, they sink back into their positions. This limits time on the ball for the attacking team and hurries them into making decisions that often result in lost passes and a turnover in possession.
Olivier Giroud is in the form of his life at the moment and is integral to our team. Although he didn’t score on Saturday he was constantly causing Liverpool’s defence problems and linking play with the rest of the team, his strength and ability in the air is devastating to oppositions defences and this has shown so far this season. He has a tough job against Subotic tonight, but I’d back him to cause a fair few problems should we challenge him to. Aaron Ramsey scored another sensational goal at the weekend and will be more confident than ever. His transformation this year has been excellent and should this form continue he will certainly cement his place in this team.
Mikel Arteta went under the radar slightly against Liverpool for some people, but he is a vital cog in our midfield engine and we function excellently as a defensive unit when he is on the pitch. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny helped us to a clean sheet against one of the free scoring teams in the Premier League at the weekend and dealt with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge excellently so should be confident of dealing with Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus. Instead of mentioning individual players as we could be here all day, I’m sure you can see I was very impressed with how we played on Saturday. Everyone put a shift in and dug their heels in to make sure we got the victory we deserved. If we play with that determination and conviction tonight then I’m sure we can come out with at least one point and still be leading the group. Dortmund didn’t do too shabbily on the weekend either, defeating Stuttgart 6-1.
This is the second time in three seasons the sides have been in the same UEFA Champions League group. They met on opening night in 2011/12, when Robin van Persie pointed the Gunners towards victory in Germany before Ivan Perišić volleyed a superb late equaliser.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last four Champions League away games in Germany (W2, D2).
The Gunners have scored in each of their last eight Champions League games in Germany.
Dortmund have kept only one clean sheet in their last seven Champions League games.
Dortmund have won their last seven home games in the Champions League, equalling their best run (between 1996 and 1998).
Arsenal will be without England midfielder Jack Wilshere for the clash in Dortmund.
Wilshere is struggling with an ankle injury and stayed behind in London when the rest of the squad travelled to Germany. He will be assessed again on Thursday to determine whether he will be fit to return against Manchester United on Sunday.
Mathieu Flamini (groin), Theo Walcott (abdominal surgery), Yaya Sanogo (back), Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) remain out, but Kieran Gibbs and Serge Gnabry should return after recent knocks.
Mats Hummels looks set to miss the clash with a thigh problem, but Marcel Schmelzer is set to play.
Sebastian Kehl is back in training follow a month on the sidelines, but is unlikely to be involved.
Lukasz Piszczek remains sidelined after summer surgery along with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan – who is still absent with a spine problem.
Potential Line Ups
Dortmund (possible XI): Weidenfeller, Sokratis, Subotic, Schmelzer, Sahin, Bender, Blaszczykowski, Reus, Mkhitaryan, Lewandowski.