Arsenal v Dortmund Preview
Borussia Dortmund travel to London on Wednesday night to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, with both teams looking to gain the single point that they each need to guarantee qualifying in their current positions of first and second respectively in Group D of the Champions League.
Arsenal are still suffering the aftermath of their last European game which saw them relinquish a 3-0 lead in the last half-hour against Anderlecht, and have to settle for a 3-3 draw. That implosion has affected the confidence of Arsene Wenger’s players, who again gave up a leading position to lose 2-1 at Swansea before the international break, and their fortunes did not improve on Saturday when they lost by the same scoreline at home to Manchester United.
The only light shining from that game for Wenger was the return to action of Olivier Giroud, who celebrated his return with a last-minute consolation goal, but sadly for the under-pressure Arsenal manager, his French striker is ineligible for this tie, as his leg injury prevented him from being registered for Champions League games until the New Year. It looks like Wenger will also be without Jack Wilshere (ankle) and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (hip) after both players went off injured on Saturday, and so Emiliano Martinez will deputise in goal for the hosts in the Pole’s absence, as he did against Anderlecht on matchday three.
Theo Walcott misses out too with a groin problem, while Mesut Özil (knee), Mathieu Debuchy (ankle), goalkeeper David Ospina (thigh) and Abou Diaby (calf) are all still unavailable. Wenger will be keen for his side to get that vital point that will ensure qualification to the next phase, and will also want to avenge the Gunners’ tame 2-0 defeat in Dortmund in the first group game back in September, and will also be keen to gain some bragging points over his counterpart, Jurgen Klopp, who is mooted by many to replace Wenger at the Emirates.
Klopp has his own selection problems as his midfield architect Marco Reus is ruled out with ankle ligament damage, which he suffered after scoring at Paderborn on Saturday, and is set to keep him out for up to two months. Klopp also has worries over Sven Bender (hip), Jakub Błaszczykowski (thigh), Mats Hummels (foot), Oliver Kirch (thigh), Nuri Şahin (knee) and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (leg). Dortmund’s horrendous Bundesliga season finally seemed to bottom out just before the international break when they ground out a 1-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, but they were back to their old tricks at the weekend, when they failed to capitalize on their 2-0 half-time advantage at Paderborn, and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
However, in Europe, they seem to have found the right formula, winning all four group games so far in comparative comfort, scoring 13 goals and conceding just one, and on a chilly damp November evening, this is set up to be a cracking night of European thrills and spills.