Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund Preview

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund | Tuesday 22 October | Emirates Stadium | 20:45


UEFA Champions League
                                               
Both Arsenal and Dortmund know how vital these back-to-back fixtures will be in determining the overall complexion of Group F.

Arsenal are flying high on top of the Premier League, seemingly striking the perfect balance between their particular brand of overwrought complexity and a more clinical professionalism.

Dortmund have kept the pace in Germany; they lie just a point behind the megalithic entity that is Bayern Munich.

Last year’s runners-up know that defeat here may leave them in a slightly precarious position in the group, especially considering that Napoli should be too strong for an unfortunate Montpellier side.

The last time these sides met was in the 2011 group phase, where Arsenal proved far too good for a team still very much in the development phase. This year should be a completely different story.


To Win (90mins)
Arsenal 13/10
Draw 24/10
Borussia Dortmund 2/1


ARSENAL

The goal that Jack Wilshere scored against Norwich on the weekend encapsulates the current aura of Arsenal Football Club.

The interplay with Giroud had all the superfluous trickery one has come to expect from Wenger’s side, but the calm finish by the English midfielder exemplified the evolution of the team from gimmicky boy-band to potential rock Hall of Famers.

Clearly Mesut Ozil has galvanized the side; his acquisition seems to have emboldened a squad who were perhaps growing somewhat disillusioned with Wenger’s lack of transfer activity.

He, along with the irrepressible Aaron Ramsey and impressive Olivier Giroud, has been a catalyst for much of their forward momentum. And given his German roots, he should prove a valuable asset in unlocking the Dortmund defense.

It will be interesting to see exactly how Wenger wants to set up. In recent years they have experienced some disappointment at home against German opposition; losing to both Schalke and Bayern Munich in last year’s competition.

The back four looks fairly settled, it is just in front of them that the equation looks more complex. Mathieu Flamini will start in the more destructive midfield role if he recovers from a possible concussion received against Norwich.

Gnabry seems the natural replacement if he were not to play. Mikel Arteta has been somewhat disappointing in that role thus far, and Tomas Rosicky will likely be slightly light in game time to handle such an industrious role.

I feel that Jack Wilshere - with his explosive bursts of energy and willingness to get involved- may be the likely contender to drop in alongside Flamini or Gnabry.

Giroud will play through the middle, with Ozil and Ramsey operating just behind the French international. Now assuming Wenger opts for this popular 4-2-3-1 system, the choice for the other attacking player will likely be between Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla.

I don’t see Wenger starting with Ozil, Ramsay and Cazorla in a game of this undoubted magnitude, so it seems likely that Rosicky may be the man entrusted with that responsibility.

Arsenal have started well with two wins out of two and they know a victory here will all but guarantee safe passage through to the next round.

Ozil will run the orchestra while Ramsey and Giroud will look to opportunistically benefit from his endeavors.


BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Dortmund were largely unconvincing in beating Hannover 1-0 on the weekend, with a fourth minute penalty from Marco Reus ultimately proving decisive.

They have had their share of injury concerns, with Gundogan, Kehl and Piszczek still on the sidelines.

Marcel Schmelzer should return at left back while Mats Hummels will come back into the side after being suspended for the weekend’s league game.

Jurgen Klopp will also be back on the sidelines following his one match European suspension for his rather ludicrous outburst in the Napoli match.

Klopp is likely to stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation which has served his team so well in the past few seasons.
One can clearly detect a certain homogeneity in styles between the two sides, setting this game up as a potential feast for the purists.

Subotic and Hummels are a strong combination in the middle, but could be susceptible to injections of pace from deeper runners such as Ramsey and Wilshere.

Nuri Sahin will likely play deep with Sven Bender while Aubameyang will likely get the nod on the right wing ahead of Blaszczykowski. Reus and Aubameyang will be critical in keeping Sagna and Gibbs pegged back, and in launching quick counterattacks.

Mkhitaryan will look to play the Ozil role behind Robert Lewandowski, perhaps looking to exploit the advancing years of both Per Mertesacker and Flamini.

Expect a titanic tactical battle between Mkhitaryan and Ozil, the result of which will go a long way to determining the service that reaches the prolific Robert Lewandowski and Olivier Giroud.

The Polish international may be desperate to play for Munich next season, but his commitment to Dortmund could never be questioned in terms of his performances.

He has the maverick quality that could bring the more tempestuous aspects of Laurent Koscielny to the fore.

Betting Verdict: DRAW

Arsenal will be oozing with confidence going into this game, while Dortmund’s performances recently have lacked some of the zest of last year. However, Dortmund know the importance of picking up at least a point here and have shown their European pedigree on numerous occasions in recent years. Though Arsenal are flying, Dortmund can match them technically in every department, and could prove very dangerous on the counter-attack; Arsenal will not be used to playing a team with such swift counter-attacking credentials. This may prove to be a decent point for both teams in reality. Expect Ozil and Lewandowski to light up the occasion.

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