Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Arsenal's Champions League Trip To Dortmund Previewed

Arsenal are sitting pretty five points clear at the top of the Premier League after their 2-0 win at home to Liverpool on Saturday. It's back to Champions League action for them tomorrow night though with a trip to last season's runners up Borussia Dortmund. As the group stands Arsenal are level on six points with both Dortmund and Napoili after three games and Marseille are cut adrift with no points.

On the face of it the group is very even and it's all to play for but the advantage is firmly with Dortmund after winning away to Arsenal two weeks ago. Napoli will be expected to win at home to Marseille tomorrow night and move on to nine points before playing at home to Arsenal in their next game. If Arsenal don't want to be going to Napoli needing a victory they have to take at least a point from Dortmund and that's not an easy task.

Dortmund went at Arsenal from the start two weeks ago and dominated the game, but they faded in each half which let Arsenal back in. Unfortunately Arsenal over committed players forward in search of a win when a draw wouldn't have been a disaster and were caught by a sucker punch late on. The Dortmund players covered an awful lot of ground in that game and can be expected to do so again.

Ideally Arsenal would be able to bring in a few fresh faces for this game but their injury situation is actually getting worse rather than improving. With no players scheduled to come back quite yet Jack Wilshere is out and it looks like Kieran Gibbs is too. At least Nacho Monreal is a direct replacement for Gibbs, but he should be the only change from Saturday.

The bench will have a decidedly inexperienced look about it with Carl Jenkinson being considered one of the more senior players on it. Both Thomas Vermaelen and Nicklas Bendtner will be there too and they should be joined by Isaac Hayden, Chuba Akpom and one more. It means Arsenal's options from the bench will be severely limited and most of those on the pitch will have to play for the full 90 minutes.

I can't see Arsenal going all out for a win and I can only imagine they will adopt a defensive outlook and hope to get something on the break or from a set piece. A draw would be a very good result for Arsenal and would mean they won't have to win at Napoli next time out which is crucial in my opinion. This Arsenal team is more than capable of getting that draw and even going one better.

It has to be remembered Arsenal have not lost a competitive game away from home since last March and include the current champions of Europe in the list of teams they have won away to since then. In their last 27 games Arsenal have only lost three times and those defeats were all at home. Dortmund might have been one of those teams who beat them but it will be far from easy for them to repeat the feat tomorrow night.

Ideally I'd love to see Mathieu Flamini in a holding role alongside Mikael Arteta and Theo Walcott at the ready to use his pace on the break, but injuries have robbed Arsenal of their services. It could well be a night of backs against the wall for Arsenal but any team with Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey in it is going to cause the opposition problems at some stage. Hopefully Arsenal can take any chances which present themselves while doing all that is required of them at the other end.

I think Arsenal can get something from this game and they have done well away to German teams in recent years. While I'm not going to boldly claim Arsenal will roll Dortmund over I think they can get a draw from the game and maybe better if things go their way. If the worst happens and they lose their task of getting out of the group will become very difficult but it will be far from over for the moment at least.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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