Monday, 21 October 2013

Arsenal's Champions League Game With Borussia Dortmund Previewed

Arsenal have taken full points from their two Champions League group games so far and tonight they take on last season's runners up in the competition. Borussia Dortmund had a very good season last season and would have won their domestic league and the Champions League if Bayern Munich had not swept all before them. They have started this season very well too and sit in second place in the league with seven wins from nine games. 

Their Champions League campaign hasn't gone quite so well though with one win and one defeat so far. They lost their first game away to Napoli but bounced back to take all three points at home to Marseille in their last game. Their next two games are against Arsenal and the outcomes of those games could well determine whether they will get the chance to go one better than last season or not.

Dortmund have some very good players and play an attractive brand of football which is very easy on the eye. In Ribert Lewandowski they have a striker who can score a goal out of nothing and win a game all on his own. He's not the only player of genuine quality in their them though with Marco Reus a top class player too. They have enough quality to cause problems for any team and cannot be underestimated.

I don't think for a second that Arsenal will underestimate them though and they will treat them with all of the respect they deserve. Arsenal have plenty of quality of their own though and have grown in strength and quality as this season has progressed. Some of the football they have played has been breathtaking and the performance they put on in the first 20 minutes of their game against Napoli was the best I can remember them playing for many years. 

After winning their first group game away to Marseille the visit of Napoli was flagged as a huge test for Arsenal and the players passed it with flying colours. The squad has had a lot of injuries so far this season, but the players who have been available have put in some great performances. With so many players returning or about to return the options for Arsene Wenger seem almost endless at the moment.

I was a little surprised when the boss started with both Mathieu Flamini and Mikael Arteta in the team against Norwich as I thought he would leave one of them out to include another more attacking minded player. Aaron Ramsey was the player who was left on the bench despite being Arsenal's best player so far this season, but that might just have been to rest him for tonight. When Flamini went off with a head injury Ramsey came on and showed why he just cannot be left out of the team at the moment.

Flamini won't be able to play tonight either because of that knock and that makes the team selection a little easier for the boss. Flamini will be missed though as his defensive work since signing in August has been a joy to watch for Arsenal fans. He puts his body on the line for the team and puts his boot in where others might think twice about it.

He's been a real boost to the team in the Champions League games so far and he will be missed tonight. Arteta is an excellent passer of the ball and keeps the team ticking over perfectly, but he doesn't offer the defence the same protection as Flamini. It will take a joint effort by all of the Arsenal midfield to try to make sure the defence isn't left exposed for Dortmund to take advantage of.

The attacking options available to Arsenal are what really excites me with Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla all likely to play together. The combination work between Ozil and Ramsey plus Ozil and Olivier Giroud has been spectacular at times and I expect Cazorla to just add to that. Dortmund will have their work cut out to stop Arsenal playing their game and it could make for a very interesting night.

I think it's going to be a very close game and could go either way, but the overall attacking quality Arsenal possess might just make the difference. Arsenal are a joy to watch at the moment and few teams can cope with their attack. They're probably letting in a few too many at the other end, but that's a product of the game they play.

A win tonight would put Arsenal in a position where qualification would be within their grasp and I think they will get it. Even a draw wouldn't be the worst result but they cannot afford to lose. It would leave them in a very tight fight for what would probably be runners up in the group and that's not a nice prospect.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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